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Should a Muslim be guided by the Quran or hadiths? Are the Sunnah and Hadiths binding? To what extent are hadiths reliable?


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When there were disintegrations in the history of Islam and when people moved away from the spirit of the Quran, Islamic scholars searched for and found the solution in the Sunnah because the one to describe the Quran is doubtlessly the Prophet.

All of the Islamic scholars accepted the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh) as the primary source in explaining the Quran. Is there a truth that it is based on?

Yes, the duty of prophethood does not end by only bringing the Quran; to explain it, to show how it will be applied are also the duties of the Prophet. For instance the following verses define some of the divine duties of the Prophet:

We sent not a messenger except (to teach)in the language of his (own)people, in order to make (things)clear to them.”(Ibrahim,14-4)

Those who follow the Messenger, the unlettered prophet, whom they find mentioned in their own (Scriptures);― in the Law and the Gospel;― for he commands them what is just and forbids them what is evil: he allows them as lawful what is good (and pure) and prohibits them from what is bad (and impure); He releases them from their heavy burdens and from the yokes that are upon them. So it is those who believe in him honor, him, help him, and follow the Light which is sent down with himit is they who will prosper.”(al-Araf, 7-157)

It is not fitting for a Believer, man or woman, when a matter has been decided by Allah and His Messenger, to have any option about their decision: if anyone disobeys Allah and His Messenger he is indeed on a clearly wrong Path.” (al-Ahzab ,33-36)

But no, by thy Lord, they can have no (real) Faith, until they make thee judge in all disputes between them, and find in their souls no resistance against thy decisions, but accept them with the fullest conviction.” (an-Nisa, 4-65)

He who obeys the Messenger, obeys Allah: but if any turn away, We have not sent thee to watch over their (evil deeds).”(an-Nisa, 4-80)

Take what the Messenger assigns to you, and deny yourselves that which he withholds from you. And fear Allah; for Allah is strict in Punishment.”(al-Hashr, 59-7)

“Say: "If ye do love Allah, follow me: Allah will love you and forgive you your sins; for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful." (Aal-e-Imran, 3-31)

Yes, those verses above and similar verses states that the duty of our Prophet is not limited with conveying the Quran to people.

Can we clarify it a bit?

1. One of the duties of our Prophet is to explain the concise verses: For instance, the Quran says, “Perform prayers”, but how shall we perform prayers? It says “Perform ruku (bow down) and sajdah (prostrate)”, but it does not tell us in detail how to perform them. There is no detail as to how to perform qiyam (standing). Our Prophet explains the verse in form and content, and shows how to perform it by saying Perform prayers as I do”. Our Prophet explains the concise commands of the Quran like prayers, fasting and hajj.

2. Explaining the verses that are hard to understand is also one of the duties of our Prophet.

For instance, the following is stated in a verse, “Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies of Allah and your enemies and others besides whom ye may not know but whom Allah doth know” (al-Anfal,8-60). In that verse, the phrase “make ready your strength and steeds of war” is used. The Companions asked the Prophet: “What is strength?” Our Prophet said, “Know that strength is throwing, strength is throwing, strength is throwing” three times. He ordered us to catch up with the changing throwing instruments of each age speedily, without losing any time.

3. The Prophet also limits and reserves the limitless and general verses of the Quran. For instance, the following is stated in the Quran, “Allah hath permitted trade and forbidden usury” (al-Baqara, 2-275). According to that verse, the trade of everything is halal (permissible). However, our Prophet limited it and forbade the trade of pigs and alcoholic drinks. Thus, he explained the limits of the legitimate trade. Another example is the following verse: “It is those who believe and mix not their beliefs with wrong― that are (truly) in security, for they are on (right) guidance.”(al-An'am, 6-82) When that verse was sent down, the companions asked our Prophet: “All of us do wrong to our souls. O Messenger of Allah, is there anyone of us who does not do wrong?” Our Prophet (pbuh) reminded the verse “Polytheism is indeed the highest wrong-doing” and explained that the wrongdoing here is polytheism. Therefore, our Prophet explains the verses of the Quran that are hard to understand.

3. The events in the Quran were also confirmed and approved by the Prophet by repeating them. Thus, he made people understand them better, which can be mentioned here regarding the issue.

4. Our Prophet also has the authority of legislation, that is, enacting laws that are not present in the Quran. For instance, the food items that are haram (forbidden) are mentioned in two verses. However, the flesh of donkey is not mentioned in any of them. Our Prophet forbade eating the flesh of domestic donkeys during the expedition of Khyber.

Why were they not explained in the Quran but left to our Prophet?

If the Quran had given all of the details, it would have been a book of many volumes.It would have made it difficult for us to benefit from it. Therefore, the Quran left the explanations of some issues to our Prophet. There are some other reasons why the explanations were left to our Prophet. Some issues were abrogated in the course of time.

Some of the hadiths reached us as weak hadiths. Acting in accordance with those weak hadiths brought about disagreement. Disagreement is mercy for the umma. If Allah had mentioned all of those issues definitely in the Quran, the probability of disagreement would have decreased. The flexibility of our religion against changing conditions of the time and society would have decreased. As a matter of fact, one of the superior aspects of our religion, I think, is that it opens the way to new interpretations in accordance with time and place, which is something good.

That is not all. Our Prophet left a margin for scholars. It is the beauty of our religion. Scholars determined some fundamental rules and methods in making judgments acting upon the Quran and Sunnah. Scholars have made interpretations for new issues with those methods. Thus, we can make our own laws for new conditions without needing any other legal and cultural system and without importing laws. As a matter of fact, all of our new needs that occurred until the last period of the Ottoman State were made into laws based on the Quran and Sunnah and they were collected into a book within the framework of our own values.
How will our people learn the Quran through hadiths? For instance, we all read the Chapter Ya Seen a lot. If we want to find out “how did our Prophet interpret that chapter?”, how will we find it? Is there a way or method of it?

First of all, the Quran is interpreted through the Quran because one verse explains another verse. An issue is explained in one aspect in a verse; in another verse, another aspect of that issue is explained,etc. However, there are a lot of interpretations of our Prophet about the Quran. One of the largest parts of Bukhari is Tafsir (interpretation). Furthermore, there are also hadiths related to interpretation that are not present in Bukhari and Tirmidhi but are present in other resources.

Applying the science of mathematics, I sometimes say: a line passes through two points. Similarly, the Quran is the point of origination about a meaning that we deduce from the Quran. If we do not refer to the hadiths as a second point, there may be thousands of views originating from one point. However, what is religion? It is the religion of oneness and togetherness. People cannot deduce different interpretations on their own from that verse but interpretations in accordance with the truth. We will search for what the Prophet said regarding the issue. If there is nothing regarding it in the words of the Prophet, then we will search for what Sahaba (the Companions of the Prophet), Tabi’in (people who met Sahaba) and Atbaut Tabi’in (People who met tabi’in) said; we will take into consideration what they said. They had more opportunity than us in understanding the Quran in accordance with its original.

To what extent are hadiths reliable?

There is no reason why we should not rely on hadiths. As we have mentioned before, the Quran directs people to the Prophet saying, “Take what the Messenger assigns to you, and deny yourselves that which he withholds from you”. That is, the Quran always points to the Prophet as the secondary resource.

Secondly, the Prophet points to himself; he attracts attention to his Sunnah and states that Islam will continue with his Sunnah. For instance, Hazrat Prophet sends Muadh to Yemen. The Prophet asks him, “How will you act there?” Hazrat Muadh says, “I will act in accordance with the Quran”. Our Prophet asks, “What if you cannot find something in the Quran?” He says, “With your Sunnah and if I cannot find it in your Sunnah, with my ijtihad (deriving laws from the original sources)”. Our Prophet becomes pleased with his answers. That hadith is an evidence for the scholars of Islam. It is proof that Sunnah is evidence and that ijtihad is necessary. Thus, when the Prophet was alive, Sahaba knew hadiths as the secondary source. 

Hazrat Umar narrates: “I have made a contract of alternation with a brother of mine. One day, he goes to the field and takes care of the field; I go to the Messenger of Allah and listen to him. In the evening, I inform my brother about what I saw and heard while I was with the Messenger of Allah. The next day, I go to the field and take care of the field; my brother goes to the Messenger of Allah and listens to him. In the evening, he informs me about what he saw and heard while he was with the Messenger of Allah. Thus, we have the opportunity to follow the Messenger of Allah closely.”

A Companion says: “I used to write whatever I heard from the Prophet. Some people said to me, ‘the Messenger of Allah is a human being too. Sometimes, he speaks when he is angry and sometimes, when he is calm. It is not true to write whatever he says.’ Thereupon, I gave up writing. However, I started to forget what I heard from the Prophet. Therefore, I went to the Prophet and told him about the issue. ‘O Messenger of Allah! I hear good things from you and I write them down but some people from Ansar said something. Therefore, I gave up writing. However, I feel uneasy when I do not write. What shall I do?’ the Messenger of Allah showed his blessed mouth and said, ‘Nothing other than truth comes out from this mouth. Write.

Some people came to the Messenger of Allah and complained about their memory. He said to them, “Ask the help of your right hands” advising them to write down.

Let me say something else. Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated a lot of hadiths and he is one of the seven people who narrated most hadiths. In a hadith I read in Mustadrak, Hazrat Anas says, “I wrote down hadiths from the Messenger of Allah during the day and I read them to him at night so that he would correct them.” That is, our Prophet corrected what he had written. After that, in the science of hadith, the students took the hadiths that they learned to their teachers and presented the hadiths to them. The students read the hadiths that they wrote and memorized before their teachers; the teachers corrected them and then gave the students diplomas.

Can we say that all hadiths are the interpretations of the Quran?

Yes we can.Our Prophet (pbuh)put the Quran into practice through his lifestyle. Therefore, the ideal lifestyle that the Quran wants from men is manifest in our Prophet (pbuh). If we consider it from the point of view of worshipping, our Prophet showed it how our worshipping towards Allah should be perfectly. Our Prophet carried out all kinds of worshipping in the perfect way. The worshipping of our Prophet is the perfect way of the worshipping that the Quran wants from us in all aspects. The same thing is valid for human relations too. Our Prophet showed us the best examples in his relationship with people and his neighbors. He also showed the best examples of husband and wife relationship. He showed us how to act towards children.

Thus, our Prophet (pbuh)represented practiced and showed the ideal of the Quran in all phases, sections and moments of his life. Muslims can take them exactly from the Prophet to the extent that they can. In a hadith, Hazrat Aisha expresses the ethics of the Prophet as, “His ethics was the ethics of the Quran.” Therefore, our Prophet explained the ethics of the Quran in terms of ethics. Maybe, he did not explain everything verbally but he practiced it. Every word, act and attitude of the Prophet is the interpretation of the spirit of the Quran.

On the other hand, he explained the stories about the previous nations. In hadiths, we can find some events about Hazrat Ibrahim (Abraham) that are not present in the Quran. Thus, we can find all of the lessons that the Quran wants to mention, to bring to mankind in terms of law, ethics and lifestyle in the life of Hazrat Prophet sometimes in his words, sometimes in his deeds and sometimes in his analyses.

The following is stated in the Quran, “eat and drink: but waste not by excess”. In another verse, squandering is forbidden. Squandering is the brother of wasting. Let us look at the practice of the Prophet to understand those two verses better:
Our Prophet put a clear limit to wasting; the most living example of it is wudu (ablution). When he made wudu, he used the water carefully so as not to waste it. He commanded us two wash our organs with three handfuls of water during wudu. To use more water is makrooh (abominable). He puts that limitation. One of the companions becomes surprised and asks: “O Messenger of Allah! Is it to save water?”. He answers, “No, even if you are near a river, you will wash your organs three times.”   

I saw a narration from Abu ad-Darda in hadiths: “Once, our Prophet arrived at a river on the way to somewhere. They brought him a bowl of water from the river. He made wudu with it and some water remained. We would normally sprinkle it around. However, our Prophet says, “Go and pour it back to the river. It may be the drink of a creature in the future.

If we eat more than we need, speak more than necessary, spend our time in vain, we waste them. They are the wasting that we cannot bring back. Lighting a match is also wasting. They are makrooh. The fact that our Prophet told us not to waste water while making wudu five times a day, he gave us the lesson of respecting nature. He teaches us that wasting is also a serious issue in other fields of life through the example of wudu.

Now, let us have a look at the explanation of the verse, “waste not by excess”. Thus, when we read a verse, we need to refer to the hadiths to see how that verse is explained. The larger our hadith culture is, the better we will understand the Quran. Can I say something like this as a conclusion?   When we read a verse from the Quran, we should try to understand it from the translations and interpretations of the Quran. However, it should not be enough for us; we should increase our hadith culture. We should learn many hadiths and form our life through them. When we read the Quran like that, it will be as if we are learning the meaning of the Quran from the Prophet.

Absolutely. Our scholars who understood it like that, for instance, Tabari, wrote all of the hadiths that he remembered about a verse. Some people criticized Tabari because he reported many hadiths. Most of his interpretation of forty volumes is full of hadiths. However, when we refer to hadiths, we understand the verses better. The light that a hadith gives is different from the meaning that we deduce by contemplating. In my opinion, it is the best way to try to understand the Quran through hadiths.

Are the Sunnah and hadiths binding?

Does the Sunnah, the life of our Prophet bind Muslims; do they have to follow it?

We will deal with that issue in accordance with hadiths and the views of scholars.

1. The Quran: There are some verses showing that Hazrat Prophet receives revelation other than the Quran (1) too.
Some of them are as follows:

1- It is understood from the following verses that our Prophet was given wisdom along with the Book: ‘Messenger from among themselves, rehearsing unto them the Signs of Allah, sanctifying them, and instructing them in Scripture and Wisdom’, (2) ‘sent down to him the Book and wisdom’, (3).

Those two words have both similarity and difference. Accordingly, since what is meant by the Book is the Quran, wisdom has to be something else. The probability that it is the Sunnah prevails.(4) It is the point of difference. The point of similarity is that both of them originate from revelation.(5)

2- The promise stated in the following verse was given to Muslims but it is not stated in the verse what it was: “Behold! Allah promised you one of the two (enemy) parties, that it should be yours: ye wished that the one unarmed should be yours” (6). It proves that it is informed through another kind of revelation.

3- The following verse proves definitely that there exists revelation apart from the Quran: “When the Prophet disclosed a matter in confidence to one of his consorts, and she then divulged it (to another) and Allah made it known to him, he confirmed part thereof and repudiated a part. Then when he told her thereof, she said "Who told thee this?" He said "He told me who knows and is well-acquainted (with all things)."”(7) Although there is no explanation about the disclosure of the secret in the Quran, the Prophet knows about it. It becomes clear that there exists revelation which is not included in the Quran since he cannot know it on his own and since it is stated that Allah informed him.

2. Hadiths:

1- According to the narration of Miqdad b. Ma’dikarib, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said the following: “...I was given the Book and the like of it”.(8)

2- Qudsi Hadiths: (9) The following phrases that are present in those kinds of hadiths: “the Messenger of Allah stated the following in the hadith that he reported from his Lord”, “Allah stated the following in the hadith that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) narrated” and the fact that those hadiths started with the words “O my slaves” prove that Hazrat Prophet received revelation other than the Quran.

3- The famous event that is known as the Jibril (Gabriel) hadith:(10). Jibril came in the form of a man, asked some questions and received answers; Hazrat Prophet told his companions that it was Jibril and that he had come to teach them the religion.

4- The expressions of Hazrat Prophet (pbuh) like ‘certainly my Lord revealed to me, (11) I was ordered, I was forbidden, (12) and the fact that he said Jibril taught him some things (13) prove that revelation exists other than the Quran too.(14)
The fact that Hazrat Prophet said “actually I did not know about them but Allah informed me about them” when he answered the questions of a Jewish person ”(15) supports that issue.

3. Views of the Scholars:

The Companions of the Prophet knew that our Prophet (pbuh) received revelation other than the Quran from his practices, explanations and words.They expressed it many times. Scholars also expressed their views about the origin of Sunnah based on hadiths and the expressions of the companions; most of them expressed that the source of Sunnah was based on revelation.
Hazrat Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) said that there was revelation about Hazrat Khadija and that she was given a manor in Paradise.

The expression that is present in narrations: Jibril brought down the Sunnah as he brought down the Quran shows that there exists revelation other than the Quran. (16) In addition, the fact that the Prophet received the information like treating the neighbors well, making wudu (ablution), performing prayers, calling out the talbiya, performing prayers in the sacred Aqiq Valley, the times of the prayers, the gate of paradise through which the umma of Muhammad will enter, the name of Hazrat Hamza (may Allah be pleased with him) being written on a tablet by the beings of the sky (17) shows that there exists revelation other than the Quran.

Tawus says that he himself has a written text that was sent by revelation about diyah (blood money, ransom) and that decrees about zakat and diyah came by revelation. (18)

By saying, “when a hadith from the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) reaches you, never make judgments contrary to it; because the Messenger of Allah (pbuh)was a conveyor from Allah, the Exalted” (19), Awzai stated that sunnah was based on revelation.
As we have mentioned before, a person who made important explanations about the issue was Imam Shafi.(20) According to the understanding that he bases on a person whose knowledge he relies on and that he himself also accepts, the Sunnah is either revelation, or the statement of the revelation or something that Allah handed him. It is based on his prophethood that is peculiar to him and the wisdom that Allah inspires him based on it. No matter which one of the above alternatives is accepted, Allah ordered people to obey the Messenger of Allah and act in accordance with Sunnah. The explanation of the Quran by Sunnah takes place either by the prophethood coming from Allah, or by inspiration or by the “command” that was given to him.

Ibn Hazm, who agrees on the same views, defines the sunnah as non-recited (ghayr matluw) revelation and says that it is necessary to obey the sunnah, which is the second revelation as it is necessary to obey the Quran. They are the same in that they are binding and they come from Allah.(21)

Ghazali states that the sunnah is based on revelation and that it is non-recited revelation.(22)

If the whole sunnah is regarded as revelation, it becomes spontaneously clear that Hazrat Prophet (pbuh) cannot change the Sunnah as he cannot change the Quran.(23)

There arises an important issue along with the understanding that the whole sunnah is based on revelation just like the Quran. If Hazrat Prophet (pbuh) waited for the revelation of sunnah like the verses of the Quran for every situation and event, how are his ijtihads and consultations to be dealt with? There were definitely some times when he waited for revelation but to think and accept that he acted like that in every phase of his life will cause problems.

Due to those situations, some scholars had the view that not all of the sunnah but some of it was based on revelation and some of it was based on situations like ijtihad and consultation.

For instance, Ibn Qutayba says the following, dividing the source of the sunnah into three:

a) the sunnah that Jibril brought from Allah. (24)
b) the sunnah that Allah left to His Messenger (pbuh), that He wanted him to explain his view. (25)
c) the sunnah that the Messenger of Allah practiced for adab; the sunnah that one receives rewards when one performs but does not receive any punishment when one abandons. (26)
Sarakhsi of Hanafis, who adopts the same view, says that the judgments that Hazrat Prophet made based on his opinion and ijtihad are like revelation:

Revelation consists of two parts:

1- Apparent revelation. It is divided into three.

a) The revelation that comes through the tongue of the angel, that is perceived by the ear and that is certainly known to be coming from Allah. That part is the revelation of the Quran.
b) The revelation that is explained to the Prophet by the angel through signs, without any words. (27)
c) Inspiration. It is the divine manifestation in the heart of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) without any doubt. A light arises in his heart and the judgment about the issue becomes clear.

2- Esoteric revelation: Calling it as “ma yushbihu’l-wahy” (resembling revelation), Sarakhsi says that there are judgments that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) reached through his opinion and ijtihad. The fact that he is not left free to make mistakes and that he is always under the control of revelation makes that kind of judgments like revelation. The ijtihads of other people from his umma are not like the ijtihad of Hazrat Prophet (pbuh) since there exists the probability of making mistakes and it is impossible to correct them through revelation. (28)

That explanation of Sarakhsi means all of the acts of Hazrat Prophet (pbuh) are beased on and are corrected by revelation. The act or word of Hazrat Prophet (pbuh) is either true or wrong. If it remains as it is, it becomes apparent that it is true because Allah will not let a wrong act or word continue.

Shatibi says the following:

Hadith is either pure revelation coming from Allah or an ijtihad by Hazrat Prophet (pbuh). However, in that case, his ijtihad is either based on a sound revelation in the Book or sunnah or has been checked by it. Even if the view that Hazrat Prophet can make a mistake in his ijtihad is accepted, he will never be left on a mistake; it will be corrected at once. In the end, it will become true. Therefore, there is no probability of mistakes in anything that comes from him. (29)

Acting upon those views, it can be said that those who say all of the sunnah is revelation do not exaggerate because all of the sunnah is checked by revelation; it is either left as it is or corrected. That is, since we cannot accept the existence of an application that is not checked by revelation, we can say as a conclusion that all of the sunnah is based on revelation. However, when we say that all of the sunnah is based on revelation, we mean the sunnah that was determined during the age of the Messenger of Allah and that reached us as sound.

4. Silently approved (taqrir) revelation

What we defined as taqrir sunnah when we explained sunnah is the silent approval by Hazrat Prophet (pbuh) of some actions or words that he saw or heard. (30) That is, when the companions did or said something based on their Jahiliyya applications or their own opinions, Hazrat Prophet sometimes corrected them, sometimes changed them and sometimes did not say anything. The companions regarded his silence as approval because it would not be appropriate for a prophet to leave a mistake as it was. Therefore, his silence meant that action or word was not wrong.

The companions were under the control of Hazrat Prophet (pbuh); similarly, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was always under the control of revelation as a necessity of the attribute of ismah (innocence) (31). Therefore, it should be known that his mistake would not be left without correction (32)and that the warning would be made at once, without any delay (33). Hazrat Prophet (pbuh) differs from everybody else and from those who are authorized to make ijtihad.

It is known that he was warned because of some of his actions even before he became a prophet. (34)

Once, when he wanted to take off his izar (outer garment) in order to throw stones but he was prevented. In another occasion, he wanted to take off his izar to help his uncle Abu Talib for the repair of the Zamzam Well but he fainted. He said someone with white clothes told him to cover himself when he came to.(35)

His body was protected to save him from exposing the parts that are not suitable to show to others; he was also protected from some unpleasant applications of that period. According to his own statement, he wanted to watch some games and entertainment in the places where marriage ceremonies were held but he fell asleep and could not watch or hear them; after that, he did not commit any bad things till he was appointed as a prophet.(36)

Can it be thought that a person who was under protection even when he was not a prophet and when he was not appointed as an example for his umma and humanity yet would not be protected in a period when he became an example in all aspects for his umma and humanity and that his errors and mistakes would not be corrected? (37)

As a matter of fact, we see some examples of it in the Quran.

Hazrat Prophet (pbuh) were worried about the protection of the revelation and Allah, the Exalted, eliminated his worry by saying there is no need to worry about it.(38)

He was warned about the issues like the guidance of men, people’s obeying the command of Allah, that his duty was only to convey the message of Allah that guidance depended on Allah’s will and that the result depended on the will of Allah (39); he was warned about Abu Talib, whom he asked for forgiveness and he was forbidden to pray for his uncle. (40)

On the other hand, he was stopped from cursing his enemies after the Battle of Uhud (41) from his wish of mutilation after what was made to Hazrat Hamza (may Allah be pleased with him) (42).

Furthermore, he was warned about releasing the prisoners of war in return for ransom after the Battle of Badr (43); he was prevented from the application he wanted in order to win the hearts of hypocrites (munafiqs) (44) ; he was also warned when he made himself haram what Allah had made halal due to the wishes of the prisoners of war .(45)

Those verses above and similar verses are clear indications that Hazrat Prophet (pbuh) was corrected when what he did was not in compliance with the divine consent. Allah, the Exalted, first leaves him free and wants him to make ijtihad or consultation with his companions. Then, if it was in compatible with Allah’s consent, it was left as it was; if it was not, he was corrected. As a matter of fact, the fact that he first said the children of the polytheists were like their fathers and then he said that they would go to Paradise, that he first said the lizards were cursed Jews and then gave up that idea due to the warning by revelation, that first he said the view about torture in grave was a Jewish mischief and then accepted the existence of torture in grave due to the warning by revelation and he took refuge in Allah from it in his prayers, (46) shows that he was warned and corrected outside the revelation of the Quran too.

As it is seen, it is impossible for the Messenger of Allah to continue a wrong deed, act or word that he saw or was informed about because that kind of silent approval is followed by umma; it is also impossible for the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) to continue the wrong acts or words in the presence of Allah; whatever he did during his lifetime is an example and something to be followed for us.

Then, Allah, who is All- Knowing, All-Aware, All-hearing, All-Seeing and Wise, either corrected all kinds of words, deeds and acts of the Prophet or approved them and left them as they were. Whether we call those things that Allah did not change and left as they were as esoteric revelation as Hanafi scholars called them (47) or as silently approved revelation, we can say that the sunnah of Hazrat Prophet (pbuh) is based on revelation.

Acting upon that fact, we think that we should accept that the continuation of some of the customs and traditions of the community the Prophet lived in were checked by Allah and since they were silently approved, it is not correct to regard them as only customs and traditions. Besides, we had stated that they were based Hazrat Ibrahim (pbuh) or other prophets.

Then, even if the attitudes and acts of the Prophet had existed in the same form in the period of Jahiliyya, they would have been corrected by revelation if they were wrong. It can be said that those that were not corrected were approved.

NARRATIONS THAT PERMITTED HADITHS TO BE WRITTEN

There are many narrations showing that it was permissible to write hadiths. One of the narrations belongs to Abdullah Ibn Amr (may Allah be pleased with him); the hadiths he wrote were transmitted to the generations coming after him in the form of books. He says:

“I used to write what I whatever I heard from the Prophet in order to memorize them. Quraishis forbad me to write saying: ' 'You are writing whatever you hear from the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) ; however, the Messenger of Allah is a human being too.

Sometimes, he speaks when he is angry and sometimes, when he is calm. Thereupon, I gave up writing. However, I informed Hazrat Prophet about the situation. The Messenger of Allah showed his blessed mouth and said, ‘Write! I swear by Allah that nothing other than truth comes out from this mouth."

A narration confirming that Abdullah Ibn Amr (may Allah be pleased with him) wrote hadiths systematically belongs to Abu Hurayra and it is recorded in Bukhari. Abu Hurayra (may Allah be pleased with him) says the following: "Nobody can outdo me in knowing hadiths of Hazrat Prophet except Abdullah Ibn Amr; because he used to write but I did not. "

The narrations that express permission about hadiths are not only those that we have mentioned. The fact that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said to the people who complained about their memory: “Ask the help of your right hands”, “fasten the knowledge by writing”, that he gave the written texts of his speeches to some people who wanted them in the written form, that there exist about 300 letters (that is written documents) that are all hadiths and whose lengths vary from a few lines to a few pages proves that it was permissible to write hadiths. Even if only the letters are considered, it will be understood that Hazrat Prophet did not oppose systematically and insistently to the writing of things other than the Quran and that he gave great importance to the usage of writing in civil life.

AS-SAHIFA AS-SAHIHA (SOUND PAGES) OF ABU HURAYRA:

In some narrations, it is stated that Abu Hurayra (may Allah be pleased with him) wrote the hadiths that he heard from the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). The name of that page is as-Sahifa as-Sahiha. Al-Hasan Ibn Amr Ibn Umayya ad-Damri narrates: " I reported a hadith near Hazrat Abu Hurayra (may Allah be pleased with him). However, he denied it by saying: " 'there is no such a hadith.'' I said to him that I heard it from him. Then, he said, "If you have heard it from me, it must be present with me in writing" and took me by the hand to his house. There, he showed me a lot of books in which the hadiths of Hazrat Prophet (pbuh) were written. He found the hadith that I reported and said to me: "Did I not tell you that if I narrated a hadith, it is present with me in writing?"

COLLECTING HADITHS:

The second important period of hadith history consists of works called “tadwin as-sunnah” (documentation and recording of hadiths in written form”. It covers the second century of Hegira.

WHAT IS TADWIN?

In the dictionary, tadwin means to compile and collect into a book. As a hadith term, it means recording of hadiths in written form officially and collecting into a book. The word “officially” is very important here. As it is seen in the previous parts, the recording of hadiths started during the period of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) individually and privately. As a matter of fact, the MESSENGER OF ALLAH himself left many written documents and they are all called “sunnah”. However, none of them can be included in the act of “writing” expressed by the word tadwin because in tadwin, the writing of the all of the hadiths is in question. Then, we can define tadwin perfectly as follows: "the activity of writing of all of the hadiths carried out in the second century of Hegira under the auspices of the state”.

HOW DID IT START?

The activity of tadwin started with Umar bin Abdulaziz, an Umayyad Caliph. Umar bin Abdulaziz (may Allah have mercy upon him), who is famous for his piousness and devotion to the sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), started to worry about hadiths as the generation of the companions who knew sunnah very well and great scholars started to die one after another. He thinks about making the scholars write the hadiths in order to prevent the risk of the loss of hadiths. Therefore, he sends commands and circular notes to governors as the Caliph.

The text of the one of the letters that Umar bin Abdulaziz sent is recorded in Bukhari. It is the letter sent to the governor of Madinah, Abu Bakr Ibn Hazm:

“Search for, collect and write the narrations about Hazrat Prophet (pbuh) in your city. I fear that the science (hadiths) will be lost and scholars will disappear. While doing it, only the sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) should be accepted. Scholars should sit in famous places open to public like mosques, spread knowledge and teach those who do not know. Science will not disappear unless it is kept secret.''

According to the narration that Ibn Sa’d recorded, Umar Ibn Abdilaziz (may Allah have mercy upon him) had the following extra phrase in the letter he wrote to Ibn Hazm:

"...a current, known sunnah or the narrations of Amra Bintu Abdirrahman should be accepted..."

The following extra phrase is present in the narration of Darimi:

“Write the narrations that are certain to be coming from Hazrat Prophet (pbuh) and from Hazrat Umar that you have (or that are present in your region)".

According to what Abu Nuaym recorded in Tarikh Isfahan, Umar Ibn Abdilaziz sent that letter to all Islamic cities.

Thus, by taking the various narrations that mention tadwin into consideration, we have a more holistic idea about the issue. In order to appreciate that attempt of Umar Ibn Abdilaziz, we need to mention the following words of Muhammed Ibnu Shihab az-Zuhri, who was the person with the greatest service in the activity of tadwin and who gave that activity the name of tadwin:
“We did not regard it appropriate to write the knowledge until the administrators forced us to do it. When we started to do it (as a result of the enforcement and intervention of administrators), we believed that we should not prevent any Muslim from writing. ''.

REASONS THAT CAUSED THE COLLECTION OF HADITHS

It will be useful to look closely at the real factors that caused the hadiths to be written and collected into books:

1- With the unanimous agreement of scholars, one of them is the following reason that is stated in the letter of Umar Ibn Abdilaziz: The anxiety that hadiths will disappear with the death of scholars: It is really an important issue. Although hadiths were written by individuals, they were written in order to be memorized; when they were memorized, they were burned; or they were advised to be burned after one’s death. The narration above that we quoted from Zuhri is enough to understand the worry and anxiety among the scholars.

Besides, that period was a period in which political turmoil and civil anarchy prevailed. The death of Said Ibn Jubayr, the famous hadith scholar of the period, who was killed by Hajjaj az-Zalim, was enough to worry Umar Ibn Abdilaziz that hadiths would disappear. What is more, the same events caused the death of Talq Ibnu Habib; The famous scholar Mujahid narrowly escaped death but was sent to prison.

2- Although it was not reflected clearly in the letter of Umar Ibn Abdilaziz, the second important factor that started tadwin was the increase in the activities of fabricating hadiths due to political and madhhab disagreements. The following words of Zuhri (may Allah have mercy upon him) certifies and confirms it: "If it had not been for the unknown hadiths that came from the east and that were rejected by us, I would have never written a single hadith nor would I have let anybody write one."

Suyuti says the following in order to state the role of the activity of fabricating hadiths in tadwin: "In a period when scholars were dispersed and the fabrications and innovations (bid’as) of Kharijites and Rafidis increased, the sunnah was written and collected into books by combining the words of Sahaba and the fatwas of Tabi’in."

HOW TADWIN TOOK PLACE:

The narrations show that Umar Ibn Abdilaziz did not find it enough to send a circular note; he followed and checked the activities of tadwin meticulously. For instance, he hired special clerks to work for tadwin in the center; he allocated two clerks to Hishm Ibn Abdilmalik, and Zuhri. They wrote the hadiths of Zuhri for a whole year.

Umar Ibn Abdilaziz, the Caliph, himself took part in the activities of tadwin; he went to mosque with a pen in his hand for prayer and joined the lessons after the prayer, writing hadiths from Awn Ibn Abdillah and, Yazid Ibnu'r-Raqqaşi.

During tadwin, not only the narrations dating back to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), but also the words and actions of Sahaba and Tabi’in were included by some hadith scholars into the concept of sunnah.

The hadiths that were written upon the command of the Caliph were sent to the center in the form of books; they were duplicated there and were sent to Islamic cities. An important narration documenting that issue comes from Zuhri: " Umar Ibn Abdilaziz (may Allah have mercy upon him) ordered us to collect the sunnah and we wrote it in books. Umar Ibn Abdilaziz (may Allah have mercy upon him) sent a book to the every city that he dominated."

It is certain that the books that were sent were the duplicated copies of the original books in the center.
Some narrations state that the hadiths collected in the center were checked by scholars: Abu'z-Zinad Abdullah Ibnu'z-Zakwan narrates: "I saw Umar Ibn Abdilaziz bring together fiqh scholars. Fiqh scholars had collected a great amount of hadiths. He read them together with the scholars and when a sunnah that was not carried out was read, he said: “It is extra; there is no deed based on it."

It can be said that the copies that were sent to the cities were duplicated after the examination of that committee.
An important characteristic of tadwin activities is that hadiths were not written under any classification like sunan, sahih or musnad. What was important in tadwin was to write them, to put them into writing not any other style or purpose. Therefore, marfu (traced back to the Prophet), mawqut (timed), maqtu (cut-off) narrations were written together with hasan (well authenticated) and daif (weak). Their distinction and classification would be dealt with in the next century called the period of tabwib (dividing into chapters).

THE ROLE OF ABU BAKR IBN HAZM:

We do not have any document indicating that the governor of Madinah, Abu Bakr Ibn Hazm, wrote any hadiths personally upon the command of although he was a great hadith scholar. He may have found it enough to force the scholars to work for tadwin as the governor. As a matter of fact, Zuhri, who adopted the work of tadwin and played the primary role in it, is a scholar of Madinah and it is certain that he started to work upon the command of Abu Bakr Ibn Hazm.

Although the life of Umar Ibn Abdilaziz was not long enough to see the fruit of tadwin activities, we reported above from Zuhri that the books that were collected in his period reached enough amounts to be duplicated and sent to big cities. Therefore, Islamic scholars agree unanimously that the first tadwin started during the age of Umar Ibn Abdilaziz (may Allah have mercy upon him), in the last years of the first century Hegira.

Prof. Dr. İbrahim Canan
Dr. Ahmet Çolak

Footnotes:

1- Although it is said that what is meant by the verse: “Nor does he say (aught) of (his own) Desire. It is no less than inspiration sent down to him” is the Quran, there are some scholars who say it includes sunnah too. For instance, Elmalılı (a Turkish tafsir scholar) interprets that verse as “It, that is, the Quran or his speech, is nothing but revelation. It cannot be expressed in any other way. It can only be sent as revelation.” Thus, he indicates that sunnah is revelation too. (Yazır, Hak Dini VII, 457); Cf Qurtubî, Tafsir, XVII,84-85; Aydınlı, Abdullah, Sünnetin Kaynağı Hakkında, Din Öğretimi dergisi, Issue37, Ank, 1992, p.48; Kırbaşoğlu, Sünnet, 236 et al.
2- al-Baqara, 48; Aal-e-Imran, 164.
3- an-Nisa, 113; al-Jumua, 2.
4- For those who say what is meant by wisdom is sunnah, see Hasan al-Basri, Qatada, Yahya b. Kathir, (Suyuti, Miftahu’l-Janna, s.23); Imam ash-Shaii, ar Risala, 32,78,93.
5- The fact that the Quran and sunnah are revelation brings about the question what the difference between them is. We understand from that verse that there is no difference between them in terms of nature. However, one of them is wahy matluw (recited revelation), the other is wahy ghayr matluw (non-recited revelation). Suyuti explains the issue as follows: The word of Allah has two parts. Allah says to Jibril, “Say to the Prophet Allah commands you to do this and that. Jibril understands the divine wish and conveys it to the Prophet. It can be resembled to a king sending a reliable person as a delegate to his subjects and the conveyance of the message by the delegate through his own words. The other is: Allah says to Jibril, “Go to the Prophet and read this book to him.” Jibril reads the book to the Prophet exactly, word for word. The revelation of the Quran can be resembled to the second from and the sunnah to the first form. Therefore, it is said that it is permissible to report the sunnah with the meaning. Suyuti, al-Itqan, I,45; see Subhi es-Salih, Hadis İlimleri, s.261-262; Karaman, Hadis Usulü, p.9-10.
6- al-Anfal, 7.
7- at-Tahrim, 3.
8- It is important for our issue that it is stated at the beginning of the hadith that there will emerge some people who will say we will accept what is in the Quran but we will reject what is not in it and that the sunnah is given. See Abu Dawud, Sunnah, 6.
9- Those hadith that are called qudsi (sacred) or divine are stated by being attributed to Allah. There are some views that both the words and meanings of them belong to Allah or the meaning belongs to allah and the words belong to the Prophet like the other hadiths. See Al-Hadith, wa’l-Muhaddithun, s.18; Qawaidu’t-Tahdith, p.64 et al.
10- See, Bukhari, Eeman, 37; Muslim, Eeman, 1; Abu Dawud, Sunnah, 16; Tirmidhi, Eeman,4.
11- Muslim, Jannah, 63-64; See, Aydınlı, Sünnetin Kaynağı, p.50-51; Toksarı, Sünnet, p.98-99; Abu Dawud, Adab, 48.
12- Muslim, Eeman, 32-36; See, al-Munawi, Fayzu’l-Qadir, VI, 289-290.
13- For examples, see, Muslim, Janaiz, 1; Tirmidhi, Eeman, 18; Jihad, 32.
14- Although some researchers claim that since the hadiths in which the word revelation is mentioned are narrated in terms of meaning, they cannot be accepted as evidence that hadith in general are revelaed (Erul, Bünyamin, İslamiyat, C.1, s.1, p.55 et al), in another article the same person says that it is not possible to say that Allah is not in contact with Hazrat Prophet except the Quran. He also says the Messenger of Allah was appointed with the duty of tabligh (conveying the message), teaching and explaining. However, he also says that it will be better to call it wisdom. (Erul, Bünyamin, İslamiyat, V.III, p.1., p.184.
15- Muslim, Hayd, 34.
16- Bukhari, Nikah, 108.
17- See respectively, Suyuti, Miftah, 29; Musnad, II, 85,160; Bukhari, Adab, 28; Muslim, 1,140; Abu Dawud, Manasik, 24,27; Tirmidhi, Hajj, 14; Abu Dawud, Salat, 2; Bukhari, Badu’l-Khalk, 6; Abu Dawud, Sunnah, 9; Musnad, I, 191; Ibn Hisham, Sira, III, 101-102.
18- Suyuti, Miftah, 29.
19- Abdulghani Abdulkhaliq, Hujja, 337; It is said that there is ijma (consensus) that sunnah is based on revelation. See, ibid, p.338; It is reported that Hasan b. Atiyya said sunnah is based on revelation like the Quran. Darimi, Muqaddima, 49.
20- Imam Shafii, who says wahy matluw is the Quran and wahy ghayr matluw is the sunnah, states that the sunnah is the ‘wisdom’ mentioned in the Quran. (ar-Risala, 3-4,10; al-Umm, V, 127,128.)
21- Ibn Hazim, al-Ihkam, 93; cf. Kırbaşoğlu, Sünnet, p.260-261.
22- Ghazali, Mustasfa, I, 83; that Kattabi has the same opinion, see Khattabi, Maalimu’s-Sunan, V, 10.
23- Çakan, İ.Lütfi, Hadislerde Görülen İhtilaflar ve Çözüm Yolları, Ist, 1982, p.96.
24- The hadith that states a woman and her maternal or paternal aunt cannot be married to the same man at the same time is like that. Bukhari, Nikah, 27; Muslim, Nikah, 37-38.
25- He gives the following incident as example: wearing silk clothes is haram for men but Hazrat Prophet lets Abdurrahman b. Awf wear silk clothes due to his illness. See, Bukhari, Jihad, 91; Libas, 29; Muslim, Libas, 24-26.
26- Ibn Qutayba, Abu Muh. Abdullah, Ta’wilu Mukhtalifi’l-Hadith, Beirut, 1972, p.196 et al.
27- Phrases like the holy spirit blew into my heart are revelation of that kind. Ibn Majah, Tijarah, 2; Bayhaqi, Sunan, VII, 76; Suyuti, Miftah, 30.
28- Sarakhsi, Shamsuddin, Usulu’s-Sarakhsi, Beirut, 1973, II, 90-96.
29- Shatibi, Muwafaqat, IV, 19; For similar views, see, Abdulghani, Hujja, p.334 et al.
30- See, Aydınlı, Istılah, 148; Also See, Bukhari, I’tisam, 24.
31-Ismah, one of the attributes of the prophets, means being away from unbelief, not knowing Allah, telling lies, making mistakes, erring, neglecting, not knowing the details of the Shariah. It also means impossibility of continuing to make a mistake. See, Ghazali, Mustasfa, II, 212-214; Sabuni, Maturidiyye Akâidi, trns Bekir Topaloğlu, Ank. 1979, s.212-212; Yazır, Hak Dini, IX, 6357; Abdulghani, Hujja, 108 et al.
32- Sarakhsi, Usul, II, 68.
33- Sabuni, Maturidiyya, 121; Abdulghani, Hujja, p.222; For the view of Ibn Taymiyya that prophets will not be let continue to make a mistake, see Abduljalil Eesa, Ijtihadu’r-Rasul, Egypt, nd. p.33.
34- That Allah protected him (pbuh) from the impurities of Jahiliyya, see Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat, I, 121; Abu Nuaym, Dalail, I, 129; Bayhaqi, Dalaîl, I, 313.
35- Abu Nuaym, Dalail, I, 147; See also, Bukhari, I, 96; Muslim, I, 268; Bayhaqi, Dalail, I, 313-314.
36- See. Tabari, Tarikh, II, 196; Abu Nuaym, Dklail, I, 143; Bayhaqi, Dalail, I, 315; Once, they took him (pbuh) to an entertainment by force, but he disappeared; Then, he said; a white-skinned, tall man said to me; ‘O Muhammad! Never touch that idol. Go back!’”. Cf Musnad, II, 68-69; Köksal, İslam Tarihi, II,117-121.
37- For more information, see Sarakhsi, Usul, II, 91; Ghazali, Mustasfa, II,214; Sabuni, Maturidiyya, s.121; Abdülghani, Hujja, 221-222; Abduljalil Eesa, İjtihad, p.31-33; Çakan, İhtilaflar, p.96,113; Erdoğan, Sünnet, 192 et al.
38- Qiyamah, 16-17.
39- See respectively al-Ghashiya, 21-22; Hud, 12; al-Kahf, 23; al,-Qasas, 56; Yunus, 99; ash-Shuara, 3.
40- at-Tawba, 113.
41- Tirmidhi, Tafsir, sura 3/12; Aal-e-Imran, 128; Abduljalil Eesa, Ijtihad, p.95.
42- The organs of Hazrat Hamza like his ear and nose had been cut off and his liver had been removed. Ibn Hisham, Sira, III, 101-103. For the verse see an-Nahl, 126-127.
43- al-Anfal, 67-68. See Abdülghani, Hujja, 185.
44- at-Tawba, 88, 84; See Ibn Kathir, Tafsir, II, 378; Abduljalil Eesa, p.105.
45- at-Tahrim, 1-2.
46- See Abduljalil Eesa, Ijtihad, s.59-66.
47- See, Sarakhsi, II, 90-91; Tahanawi, Muh. Ali b. Ali, Kashshafu Istilahati’l-Funun, Ist, 1984, II, 1523.



17-06-2013 02:02:27

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