By Adis Duderija, New Age Islam
The following ‘article’ presents the views on a number of Muslim scholars on the proper employment of Hadith in Qur’anic interpretation.
Mohammad Hashim Kamali -considers that no new methodology to that of classical Ulum ul Hadith for authentification of Hadith is needed but to that there is some weakness with respect to its implementation especially in the early stages of the compilation of Hadith.-p.288 - also considers that more attention needs to be paid to Matn in opposed isnad criticism-p.288-289Qoute:
The accuracy of Hadith text and its harmony or otherwise with the Quran and the principles of Islam that had a wider basis in the Hadith itself did not receive a commensurate level of attention from the Hadith scholars.-p.289
- with respect to lack of systematic implementation of classical Ulum ul Hadith sciences Kamali mentions the work of Abdul Faraj al-Jawzi work Al-Mawdu'at who identified a number of inauthentic Hadith in all of the six Sunni canonical Hadith collections ( his finding were endorsed by 'Asqalani and Suyuti)-289
-Gives example of a questionable Hadith in Sahih Muslim in which the Abi Hudhafa was instructed by the Prophet to suckle her adult free slave so to establish the relationship of fosterage with him-p.296 -gives example of the Hadith which talks about the Muslim Ummah being divided into 73 sects and only one will be saved and supports his view that this Hadith is inauthentic by giving the vies of Ibn Hazm and Abul Hasan al Ash'ari. Kamali also quotes Quran 3:103;42:13 and 6 :159 as evidence that the Hadith in question conflicts with the Quran as well as with historical reality – p.303-305
Shafi’i “I have never heard anyone whom people considered knowledgeable –or who considered himself to be knowledgeable-dispute that God Almighty and Exalted has made the following command , and submitting to the judgement of God’s Messenger ( peace and blessings be upon him) obligatory, in that God Almighty and Exalted, has ordained that everyone other than him [the messenger] only follow him, and that the only sayings (qawl) that must be adhered to in every situation are the Book of God and the Sunna [by which he means sound ( Sahih) Hadith of His Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him. Everything other than these two is subordinate to them. Indeed God the Most High has made accepting reports Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) obligatory for us and for those before and after us.
Muhammad Idries Ash Shafi’i, Kitab Jima Al ‘Ilm, in Kitab al Umm, ed. Mahmud Matraji (Beirut: Dar al Kutub ‘Ilmiyya, 1993), 460.
Muhammad Abduh:- Only accepted Hadith mutawatir for Tafseer purposes if in accordance with Quranic meaning and was extremely reluctant to accept Ahad Hadith as sources of law - criticised classical isnad criticism as not a valid methodology of Hadith transmission
Ghulam Pervez: “Now, if there was more revelation (i.e. Hadith) then the prophet’s duty should have been to transmit it as well, in a fashion similar to that of the Qur’an. However neither did he order it to be written down anywhere, nor did he oversee its memorization, nor did he complete some sort of collection of it, nor did he make any sort of accommodation whatsoever for its preservation.” “Throughout the entire Quran, there is not even a hint of the existence of revelation outside of the Quran, or that there are 2 types of revelation. Allah mentions only the Quran and gives His vow of protection only to the Quran. (Interestingly, the belief of 2 types of revelation is present in the Jewish religion; perhaps it is from there that Muslims have borrowed the idea.)” Ghulam Ahmed Perwez, letters to Saleem, letter 5 , “ The Fundamental principles of the Islamic System” , trans. Suhail Alam, http://www.tolueislam.com/Parwez/skn/SK_05.htm,accessed 17.August,2011.
-Considers that the Hadith is superfluous and the Koran is fully adequate for its own interpretation that nowhere does the Koran command to put faith in the Hadith on the contrary, a caution against it is met in Sura 3 : 5: 'There are people who buy idle 'Hadith' to mislead people without knowledge (i.e. certainty) from the way of God and to make a jest of it; these shall have a shameful punishment.'(p.220)
-Forms the view that provisions of the law, occurring in the Hadith, were often contradictory to the contents of the Koran. As an instance of it Parwez gives the punishment of fornication. The Koran ordains that it should be a hundred lashes, the Hadith states that the married adulterer must be stoned to death (p.221) Source: J. M. S. Baljon, Jr., ''Pakistani Views of Hadith'', Die Welt des Islams, 5 (1958): 219-227.
Muhammad Husayn Haikal: Why Hadith a problem: -criticised classical Hadith sciences – classical scholars of the past and the present should not assume in wholesale fashion the veracity of all the books of Prophet's biography and Hadith have brought -cites following reasons why modern biographer of Prophet must employ modern methods of scholarship and not rely uncritically on the pre modern books of sira and Hadith:
1. Differ in the reports of same events and are contain many miracles and extraordinary events.
2. Earliest of the books were written more than hundred years after the prophet had died which has resulted in fabrication of stories and Hadith which have absorbed the political and sectarian views of the movements during that period in order to give their views credibility and veracity.
3. Greatest fabrications of Hadith took place during the Umayyads and Abbasids- Quote: ''In fact the political struggles of the first century of Islam caused the various parties to invent and press into their service a great number of stories and Hadiths.'' Many Hadith which were considered to be true at first were found to be untrue (Here refers to opinion of Nawawi who considered that many Hadith in Bukhari and Muslim were not true. The classical isnad method is not enough to establish the veracity of Matn. Many Hadith run counter to science and reason Quran is the main criterion for Hadith criticism. Justifies this on authority of a Hadith.
Muhammad Shahrur: -why Hadith a problem: -part of his attempt to go beyond the traditional Muslim epistemology - Hadith in classical Islamic scholarship became practically often the first source of legislation displacing the Quran Methodology: - the Sunna of the Prophet is culturally and historically conditioned and that it lacks the universality of Allah’s book - makes a distinction between the prophetic (nubuwwa) and messenger (Risala) aspects of Muhammad’s divine mission, he argues that the former deals with the universalist dimension of the Divine message as embodied in the Al-Kitab which he restricts to eschatological and purely theological issues which are ambiguous and transcend this objective reality. The former is concerned solely with definite, unambiguous and objective reality which is subject to human faculties and senses. - argues that only the Qur’an possess the ontological quality of ‘being in and for itself’ and not the Sunna which he defines as Prophet’s own human-bound, non-absolute Ijtihad/interpretation/understanding of the Al-Kitab.
- Shahrur argues for a specific and circumstantial nature of the concept of Sunna of the Prophet based on five principals including: i.) the idea that Prophet’s decisions were conditioned by his historical context; ii.) his Ijtehadis in restricting the allowed did not need divine revelation; iii.) His restrictions of the ‘unrestricted permissions’ (Halal mutlaq) were subject to constant corrections as a result in change in circumstances in his own life; IV.) His Ijtehadis, unlike revelations, were not infallible and v.) his Ijtehadis regardless if they are of prophetic or non-prophetic nature do not constitute Islamic legislation.
Nasiruddin Al Albanee:
Methodology: - Al-Albani's method of determining the authenticity or lack thereof of a particular Hadith is based largely upon the analysis of the isnad, using information found in the biographical dictionaries (asma ul rijal). - considers that interpretation of a Hadith is an aspect of authentification. Therefore, there is no place for interpretation in the case of a weak (da'lf) tradition - he does interpret Hadiths that have reliable isnad, when their Matns do not correspond to the Matns of other reliable isnad.
Methodology: Considered that while the methodology regarding isnad criticism is adequate it is not so in relation to its internal criticism (al naqd al dakhili) i.e. it’s Matn or subject matter formed the view that the Hadith Matn is to be examined in the light of prevailing socio-political conditions which would have removed the inauthentic Hadith
Fazrul Rahman: -argued that in all cases in which the Qur'an conflicted with the Hadith, the Qur'an had to be privileged over the Hadith categorically, since the Qur'an was the direct and preeminent source of God's guidance.
Methodology: a. )distinguishing between concepts of Sunna an Hadith: -Sunna not large in quantity and not meant to be something specific; Sunna included not only Sunna of the prophet but also its interpretations( by ra'y and qiyas);Sunna became co-extensive with Ijma' of Muslim community; with massive increase in Hadith phenomenon and haditification of Sunna the organic link between Sunna-Ijtihad and Ijma' became undone -Sunna is a general umbrella concept and a behavioural term and it allows for interpretation and adaptation
b.) Reinterprets the role of and function of Hadith: -if all of Hadith is given up what remains but a yenning chasm between us and the Prophet? -Most Hadith are not historical -isnad is important in minimizing Hadith forgery but cannot ''constitute a positive final argument''.... because it is a ''relatively late development originating around the turn of the first century'' -Hadith represents the ''interpreted spirit of the prophetic teaching-it represents living Sunna''
-Hadith as total fixation of formerly dynamic living Sunna that crystallized as a result of Ijtihad-Ijma (see above) -Hadith as '' the sum total of aphorisms put out by the Muslims themselves ,ostensibly about the Prophet, although not without an ultimate historical touch with the Prophet'' - ''it must be emphatically pointed out that a re-evaluation of different elements in Hadith and their though rough interpretation under the changed moral and social conditions of today must be carried out. Thus can be done only by a historical study of the Hadith-by reducing it to living Sunnah and by clearly distinguishing from situational background the real value embodied in it'' -''On the very same principle of situational interpretation, by resurrecting the real moral value from the situational background ,must be handeled the problem of legal Hadith. We must view the legal Hadith as a problem to be re-treated and not as a readymade law to be directly applied'' -''It will have been noticed that although we do not accept Hadith in general as strictly historical , we have not used the terms 'forgery' or 'concoction' with reference to it but have employed the term 'formulation'.
This is because Hadith, verbally speaking, does not go back to the Prophet, its spirit certainly does, and Hadith is largely situational interpretation and formulation of this Prophetic model or spirit.'' -''We cannot call Hadith a 'forgery' because it reflects the living Sunnah and the living Sunnah was not a forgery but a progressive interpretation and formulation of the Prophetic Sunnah.'' - argued that in all cases in which the Qur'an conflicted with the Hadith, the Qur'an had to be privileged over the Hadith categorically, since the Qur'an was the direct and preeminent source of God's guidance.
Rashad Khalifa “The continued research unveiled a startling fact: that the extremely popular ‘Hadith and Sunna’ have nothing to do with the prophet Muhammad, and that the adherence thereto represents flagrant disobedience of God and His final Prophet (Quran 6:112 and 25:31).” Rashad Khalifa, preface to Qur’an, Hadith, and Islam (Tucson: Islamic Publications, 1982).
Kassim Ahmed “The Hadith and everything else have to be judged by the Qur’an”.
Kassim Ahmad, Hadith: A Re-evaluation (Tucson: Monotheist Publications, 1997), ix.
Amin Ahsan Islahi: - All Ahadith are to be interpreted in the light of the Quran (citing 42:17, 57:25,5 :48). Hadith are a branch and Quran is the root -Hadith can only explicate the themes of the Quran and therefore must be in accordance with it because whatever the Prophet did or said was always in perfect accordance with the Quran. - We should look into the basis of Hadith in the Quran and understand it in the light of it. -Five fundamental principles in understanding the Hadith:
1. All Ahadith are to be interpreted in the light of the Quran (citing 42:17, 57:25,5 :48). Hadith are a branch and Quran is the root -Hadith can only explicate the themes of the Quran and therefore must be in accordance with it because whatever the Prophet did or said was always in perfect accordance with the Quran. - We should look into the basis of Hadith in the Quran and understand it in the light of it.
2. Hadith is not to be interpreted individually but in the light of the entire corpus of Hadith and thematically i.e. part is interpreted in the light of the whole not other way around.
3. A mastery of Hadith language and terminology is required for their proper understanding. - In syntactic and morphological analysis of Hadith we need to rally on the judgement of expert grammaticians and lexicographers.
4. Understanding Hadith always requires proper understanding of the instances of specifications and generalisations, situation and context and the nature of address -student of Hadith needs to fully appreciate the implications of both the textual and situational context of the Hadith
5. Hadith must be in accordance with (collective) reason and human nature (Fitrah).
b.) Six additional principles employed in sifting sound from unsound Hadith:
1. A Hadith abhorrent to understanding and religious taste of the believers and pious scholars is to be rejected.
2. A rare practice which is not in accordance with the customary practice of Muslims will not be accepted
3. Hadith which contradict the Quran in any manner cannot be accepted as genuine
4. Hadith which contradict the well known Sunnah (Sunna ma'luma or sunna ma'rufa) will also be rejected.
5. Any Hadith which is not in accord with reason will be rejected
6. Any Hadith running counter to 'conclusive and definite evidence' is not to be acccepted. c.) principles regarding the isnad: -a sound isnad is not sufficient to guarantee authenticity of a Hadith due to its inherent limitations which pertain to the following: -nature of asma ul rijal works as certain and definitive knowledge regarding the rijal can no longer be obtained -subjective nature of assessment of each rijal's uprightness by different scholar
Why Hadith a problem: -complained that tawatur was attributed to Ahad Hadith by some ‘Ulema and Muhadithun and that weak and fabricated Hadith were used in their Tafseer , works on history and Hadith which has lead to misguiding of the general public and exploitation of their religious sentiment.
Quote: ‘’long list of names of companions and followers , authors and imams who are frequently quoted by the Hadith transmitters are mentioned , despite the knowledge that the reports in question are weak and cannot stand the test of scrutiny and criticism… ‘’ -the categories of Hadith with the following themes he considers have incorrectly been given the status of mutawatir or mashhur e.g.mahdi, dajjal and ishiqaq al-qamar
Methodology: -makes a conceptual distinction between Sunna and Hadith On Sunna and its scope and nature -Sunna=millet Ibrahim- refers to religious traditions of Abrahamic faith which Prophet Muhammad revived, reformed and added on -Sunna’s perpetuation through Ijma of companions and successors through 'amali tawatur -determines the precise content and nature of Sunan which form the complete content of religion- no need for Hadith -Sunna refers to religion only; relates to practice ; directives emanating from the Quran are not Sunna but only his explanation or clarification of them ( eg. Fornication punishment is not Sunna), practices adopted or modified by the prophet from Abrahamic religious tradition and later sanctioned by the Quran (such as prayer rituals) are Sunna, prophet’s moral excellence (uswa hasana) is not Sunna but model behaviour (eg. Prophet's manner of performing wudu) -explanation or decryption of inherent guidance in human nature is not Sunna eg. Prohibition of eating donkey or lion meat -general guidance even of religious nature if it is not intended to form part of rituals or practice is also not Sunna eg. Wording of different prayers in different situations - like Quran Sunna is not established on the basis of isolated Ahad evidence but only through tawatur- it was prophetic duty to establish this -epistemological basis of Sunna is Ijma and tawatur of the ummar which received it from Ijma and tawatur of companions
On Hadith: -prophet never took any steps for dissemination nor preservation of Hadith apart from possibly his sermon on the final pilgrimage -Hadith can be accepted only if the basis for such a Hadith exists in the Quran ,Sunna or the established principles of human nature and intellect
Israr Ahmad Khan Argues for the continued need to reinterpret and subject Hadith to criticism in the light of modern challenges and in the light of Maqasid al Shariah considers that legally binding Hadith must be evaluated in relation to the Quran, reason and Sunnah mutawatirah – if Hadith contradicts any of these it is to be rejected Shifts Hadith authenticity criteria from isnad to that of Matn and maintains that isnad focused criticism of pre-modern approaches has resulted in inclusion of Ahadith which either contradict Quranic teachings or portray the Prophet in uncharacteristic light considers that many Hadith which circulated among the masses just after the death of the Prophet were forgeries reflecting political, sectarian, economic or theological reasons.
Argues for the continued need to reinterpret and subject Hadith to criticism in the light of modern challenges and in the light of Maqasid al Shariah Argues that there are four approaches to Hadith among contemporary Muslims:
''1. Those who totally reject the relevance of Hadith in Islamic life.
2. Those that fall blindly into accepting everything that appears to be Hadith regardless of its authenticity.
3. Those that make indiscriminate selection from Hadith for practical purposes
4. Those who believe in the sanctity of the Prophetic tradition but opt for an extremely careful approach with regards to their logical and practical to Islamic life and civilisation.''
- He puts himself into the fourth category and advocates ‘‘a highly balanced approach to the Quran as well as the Sunnah and the Hadith as the only viable approach as recommended in the Quran (2:143)''. - criticeses those in group one to be contradicting the Quran ( 4 :59) and transforming Islam into ' a mere philosophy' -accuses those in group 2 to be 'semi-literate' , misguided and misguiding many and that the continued circulation of the forged Hadith in these religious circles is ''one of the main factors behind Muslim backwardness and decline in virtually every field of life including the religious and spiritual'' -criticeses the third groups methodology as 'selective' and benefitting their own 'vested interests and covert agendas' -considers that legally binding Hadith must be evaluated in relation to the Quran, reason and Sunnah mutawatirah – if Hadith contradicts any of these it is to be rejected -considers that the door on isnad criticism ''might be considered closed ‘but not on Matn. -his methodology:
a.) Examine certain Hadith in light of Quranic principles and instructions
b.) Main criticism of Hadith in the light of some 'highly authentic prophetic Hadith'
c.) checking Hadith Matn authenticity in the light of reason.
Example of a.) -cites Quran 2 :185,3:4 and 25:1 as well as citing Aisha's reply to Ibn Umar's question about a Hadith according to which the dead could hear what the living were saying and Aisha's statement that such a Hadith would contradict the Quran
Khaled Abou El Fadl: -Introduces the concept of a “conscientious pause”, a faith –based objection to textual evidence of a Hadith based upon the overall understanding of the Qur’an-Sunna Weltanschauung and its élan/ethos.
Muhammad Abduh -only accepted Hadith mutawatir Hadith for Tafseer purposes if in accordance with Quranic meaning and was extremely reluctant to accept Ahad Hadith as sources of law
MUHAMMAD AL GHAZALI: -he objects to rationally or theologically incompatible Hadith or those which are in conflict with the Qur’an or broader aims of the Islamic law (Maqasid al-Shari’ah). - Criticised ahl-Hadith manhaj and reliance on Ahad and weak Hadith in Aqeedah and Fiqh-considered Quran as the ultimate source of all principles.
Muhammad Said Al Ashmawy: -considers Hadith to be important because it is primarily through them that we learn about the asbab al-tanzil and because Hadith give guidance when the Quranic verses are too general to provide a clear judgment by themselves.
Methodology: -considers that many Hadith were fabricated and there are diverse opinions about which are genuine -sceptical of many Hadith, especially those known to have only a single line of transmitters, but seems to believe that a core of dependable Hadith can be found if a suitable criticism based on the Matn can be developed. -considers Hadith to be important because it is primarily through them that we learn about the asbab al-tanzil and because Hadith give guidance when the Quranic verses are too general to provide a clear judgment by themselves.
Muhammad Zubayr Siddiqi:
Methodology: -considers that there are still weak or forged traditions in canonical Sunni Hadith books (on the basis of following classical Ulum ul Hadith) such as those concerning Dajjal, the Mahdi and Khidr
-Examples of problematic Hadith: -asbab ul nuzul of 49:9 as reported by Al Bukhari incorrect. -Hadith in Bukhari stating that had Prophet's son Ibrahim lived he would have become a Prophet -Hadith in Bukhari reporting that Adam's height was sixty yards.
Methodology -Quranic teachings are primarily about morality and personal piety; accepts that Hadith have been forged for a number of reasons ;accepts well authenticated Hadith with regards to morality and personal piety if in accordance with Quran. -Role of Hadith is to explain in practical detail what Quran summarizes or alludes to (p.66) -sceptical regarding early Muslim historiography in general (p.90)
Yusuf Al Qaradawi: Why Hadith a problem: - wants to ensure proper understanding of Sunna against three ‘evils’, namely that of the “distortion of the extremists” ,the deviation of the falsifiers and the “interpretation of the ignorant.” -considers that weak Hadith are especially those in the category of al-targhib wa’l tarhib, also weak and forged Hadith are used in Tafseer especially in relation to the superiority and virtue of certain Quranic chapters and verses
Sadiyya Shaikh: -In her article titled “Knowledge, Women, and Gender in the Hadith: a Feminist Interpretation”, S. Shaikh argues that Hadith literature can serve as a mirror of the formative civilization reality of the first three centuries of Islam which, in turn, ''reflects a worldview simultaneously characterized by the revolutionary egalitarian Islamic ethos and the self-perpetuating legacy of an androcentric Arab culture''. - She approaches the Hadith literature as ‘religio-cultural texts’ which provide a window into the dominant conceptions of socio-political, religious and cultural norms and values of the Islamic community ,especially in relation to gender and the category of a woman. -Hadith can serve as both source of gender equality as well as inequality -employs feminist hermeneutics, she defines as ‘‘theory or method for interpretation which is sensitive to and critical of sexism’’ when interpreting Hadith.
-By contextualizing the Hadith body of knowledge from the vantage point of ‘feminist hermeneutics’ and by being sensitive to the gender ideology embedded it, she explores how Hadith can be used to offer alternative (to traditional approaches) possibilities of interpretation which signify the Islamic egalitarian ethos and providing counter leverage to the dominant discourses which are patriarchal in nature.
Taha Husayn: -accepts well authenticated Hadith with regards to morality and personal piety if in accordance with Quran. Role of Hadith is to explain in practical detail what Quran summarizes or alludes to (p.66)
Qaradawi -Qaradawi’s manhaj emphasizes the priority of interpreting Hadith in the light of the Qur’an, taking recourse to methods such as reconciliation of Hadith ( over giving of preference ), recommend a thematic ,holistic treatment of Hadith ,making distinctions between figurative and literal and call for the importance of recognising the causes and objectives of Hadith for their better understanding. -considers that weak Hadith are especially those in the category of al-targhib wa’l tarhib, also weak and forged Hadith are used in tafsir especially in relation to the superiority and virtue of certain Quranic chapters and verses
Tabatabai- “In general, there is no justification to discard a tradition, or a group of traditions, unless it goes against the Qur’an or definite (qa’ti) Sunnah, or the marks of lie and forgery are stamped on it. However, when it comes to the basic religious knowledge and fundamental beliefs, the only thing accepted as [primary] proof is the Book of Allah and the authentic traditions of the Prophet and definite Sunnah.” -considers that solitary Hadith can serve as supporting evidence for the primary evidence [dalil] obtained only from the tafsir of the Qur’an by the Qur’an. As such these Hadith are not binding but valuable.
HASBI: -considers that Hadith is the second source of Islamic law. Forms the view that the quality of a Hadith as proof in Ijtihad varies according to the number of transmitters reporting it. Considers that Ahad Hadith Sahih is proof (hujja) provided that it does not contradict the stronger proof such as Qur’anic verse. Hadith functions to particularize the general provisions of the Qur’an, to strengthen its explanation or legislate a ruling that the Quran does not mention. Hadith cannot however abrogate Quranic verses but only assist in helping us find out which one of the verses of the Qur’an abrogates the other.
Abu Ala Al Maududi - Hadith have legal authority in Shariah -Prophet as instructor (law and wisdom for purification of hearts), explainer ( of Quran), source of ideal behaviour, law giver, judge ,arbitrator and ruler- all basis for Sunna -considers legal Ahadith as essentially sound -accepts the fabrication of many other zanni Hadith-zanni Hadith to be investigated in light of textual analysis and keeping in mind the mind set and intention of the Prophet-uses example of Abu Hanifa as one such scholar . -considers Companion Hadith as subject to critique
Javed Ghamidi -Hadith can be accepted only if the basis for such a Hadith exists in the Quran, Sunna or the established principles of human nature and intellect
Mahmud Shaltut: - opposed weak Hadith, and focused on the universal, timeless implications of Quranic revelation - urged interpretation o f the Quran on its own terms and within its own corpus rather than depending on weak Prophetic Traditions or classical scholarship
Al Sayyid Al Khu'i -his view is that, since only the words and not the meanings of the Quran are mutawatir, there is no reason why a Hadith of equal evidentiary value cannot particularize it; furthermore, the only reason why an Ahad report cannot abrogate it is because of well-known Hadith prohibiting this; in the absence of these Hadith, according to Khui, there is no reason why they couldn't. The background of the debate is an argument according to which laws can only be based on Ahad reports due to a specific permission to consider them probative (ithbat, as opposed to thubut).
In conclusion there is a broad range of views by Muslims scholars on the proper use of Hadith in Qur'anic interpretation.