The Actual Status of Hadith – Part 2

October 30, 2006


However moved we may be, by the uniformity of our religious liturgy, the case with our Hadith somehow, does not seem to hold water. We must not omit the fact that nowhere has Allah held the responsibility of hadith, as it has done in the case of the Holy Quran. That is of utmost significance, since the hadith consists of parables and sayings of Messenger MuhammadPBUH and nothing else, we must consider Muhammad’s attitude towards hadith. If Hadith is part of Deen, then the procedures Messenger adopted for Quran are not implemented in the case of hadith. Like having it memorized, then listening to his followers for any errors or that he satisfactorily approved what had been dictated and written, that over and above all, it was in its pure and authentic form. Though the mind questions, if hadith is all that significant, why the Messenger did not take the same measures as he did in the case of Holy Quran? On the contrary, we find in that very hadith, Muhammad PBUH clearly says:

Do not have anything else dictated from me, save the Quran. If anyone of you has written any word other than the Quran, erase it!

We are also told that this was a temporary mandate from the Messenger. That at another time, it is observed, upon the request of Hazrat Abdullah bin OmarR, the Messenger permitted them to write down his sayings. As is noticed, the Messenger only permitted his followers, he did not make it mandatory for them to write, as we find he did, in the compilation of the Holy Quran. Moreover, he did not at anytime, ask as to what they had written or heard or question the verity of their writings. Neither we find MuhammadPBUH adopting measures to safeguard or preserve those hadiths as he had done with Quran. It is usually said and believed that in those days the Arabs had stupendous memory and also those sayings were very dear to the hearts of the disciples. Now the mind again questions, if memory was enough of a viable resource to be depended upon, why then was the need felt to have the Holy Quran dictated and written on paper, then recited again to remove any possibility of errors or mistakes during the process of its dictation. If any disciple of the Messenger had learnt those hadiths or sayings of the Messenger by heart, we still are not in a position to vouch for it. Until and unless those sayings were not verified, and the seal of approval cast on them by the Messenger Muhammad PBUH himself, we cannot depend on them. We also have no knowledge of the Messenger ever giving to the Muslims the Hadith in the form of a book and coming down to us through the generations. We observe the Messenger MuhammadPBUH did not take any of the precautions in the case of hadith, as he did for the Holy Quran. What we have gathered from the historical resources, is that we do find documents other than the Quran, that were written under the orders of MuhammadPBUH. For example, contracts, treatises and letters that he sent to other tribes. What in this matter, has come to our knowledge and what we have been able to gather, at the time of Messenger’s demise, are the following:

  • A register containing the list of names of 1500 holy disciples or followers of Muhammad PBUH.
  • The letters MuhammadPBUH wrote to various kings and rulers of that age or time.
  • Documents of treatise and other obligatory rules.
  • Hadiths from Hazrat Abdullah bin Omar, Hazrat Ali and Hazrat Uuns who wrote them on their own.

No one knows if these sayings written down were ever verified by the Messenger himself or not and whether they have come down to us in its original version. We have no knowledge of any collected works or hadith that Messenger himself gave to the Muslims before his departure from this world. We do in fact find in the Hadith of Bukhari, that someone asked Hazrat Ibn e AbbassR as to what MuhammadPBUH had left behind for the Muslims. He said,

‘The Messenger left behind nothing, save the Quran.’ (Bukhari, Vol. III, Fuzail ul Quran.) (Sahih Bukhari: Virtues of the Quran)

The Deeds of Disciples

As we glance through the names of Islam’s historic personalities, we notice that after Muhammad’s lifetime, the caliphate period is also worthy of being looked into. In the Musnad of Imam Ahmad we find the disciples saying,

“Whatever utterances we heard from Muhammad PBUH we noted them down in writing. One day it so happened the Messenger appeared and asked us about the subject of our writings. We replied that whatsoever we hear from his Majesty’s lips we transform it into writing. To which he said,

What! Are you compiling another book along with the book of Allah?”

Meaning in other words that this cannot be made possible. He then insisted and commanded us that we ought to keep Allah’s words pure and that we must not amalgamate them with any kind of ambiguities. So we made a bonfire of our notes and parables in an open field.” (Quoted from Tudween e Hadith, page 249)

At another instance we find Imam Zuhbi mentioning Hazrat Abu Bakr who gathering the disciples of the Messenger, after his passing away said,

‘You people have so much self-contradictory gossip about MuhammadPBUH that you squabble among yourselves. The future generations will become more rigid than you all and quarrel more. You must not feign sayings of Holy Messenger that are fallacious. If anyone inquires you can always say that we have the Holy Quran between us. Whatsoever has been granted must be made permissible and whatsoever has been prohibited must be relinquished.’ (Quoted in Tazkara tul Hifaaz e Zuhby, page 321)

Then Imam Zuhbi quotes another parable of the Messenger’s wife Hazrat Aisha and writes:

The wife of the Messenger mentions that her father (Hazrat Abu Bakr) had collected the Hadiths of the Messenger which were five hundred in number. She says,

‘One night I noticed that my father was restless in his bed and was very perturbed. I asked him if he was in some bodily pain or was this condition due to any bad news that he might have heard? He did not answer my question. In the morning he asked me to bring him the collection of Hadiths and then he made a bonfire of them all.” (Quoted in Tudween e Hadith, page 285-88)

As far as Hazrat Omar’s caliphate is concerned, Allama Ibne Abdulbur has mentioned him in his famous book Jama e Biyaan ul ilm, wherein he says:

“OmarR wanted to compile the sayings and parables of the Messenger. He asked from the companions of Messenger MuhammadPBUH to grant him a decree, to which they faithfully conceded. Inspite of the companions consent Hazrat OmarR was not convinced. For complete one month Hazrat OmarR performed Istekhara. Then one morning when Allah calmed his body and mind and he was able to concentrate on the issue at hand in serenity, he talked to his people about his decision to compile the hadiths. But then he said I thought about the generations that have passed before us, who wrote books and adhered to those books so strongly that they forgot the Book of Allah. I swear upon Allah, I will not let the word of Allah be amalgamated with other words.” (Quoted in Tadween e Hadith, page 394)

This was decided because the Messenger had ordered every companion not to ask him to dictate anything else besides the Quran. Whosoever has written anything else besides Quran must erase it. Omar did not finish the matter here. He not only prohibited and banned the collection of ahadith, he went a step ahead and as is written in Tubqaat ibn Sa’ad:

“During Hazrat Omar’s caliphate the ahadith were in abundance. He made sure by putting the people under oath that whatever hadith the people had in their possession ought to be brought before him. As ordered, the public submitted whatever they possessed. He then ordered to make a public bonfire of those hadiths.” (vol.5, page 141)

This was the third incident of igniting the hadith collection. The first ignition took place when the Messenger commanded. The second instance was when Hazrat Abu BakrR did the same with his own collection and the third time Hazrat OmarR took all the collections from the people under oath and publicly ignited them. All this took place in the capital city. As to what happened afterwards we get a glimpse of it in Hafiz Ibne Abdulbur’s Jama e Biyaan wherein he states:

“Hazrat Omar ibn KhattaabR first expressed his desire to compile the ahadith, it dawned upon him later that it will not be appropriate. So he sent a circular in the districts and cantonments to destroy whichever hadith anybody was in possession of.” (Tadween e Hadith,Vol.1, page 400)

He writes further and gives us a detailed account, of how elaborate and precautionary measures were taken for the compilation of the Holy Quran. If the government wanted, what possibly could have come in the way of adopting the same policy towards the compilation of the Hadith. He states that the government of that time did not adopt the same policy towards the Hadith with a specific purpose. This was the situation at the time of the Messenger and his companions, of hadith.


  • The Messenger ordered his companions not to ask him to dictate anything else besides the Quran.
  • Whatever Hadith collection was present among the companions, it was ordered to be ignited.
  • Hazrat Abu Bakr made a bonfire of his own collection and banned others from quoting any hadith.
  • Hazrat Omar after giving his best thought for one month, reached the conclusion to ban the compilation and collection of ahadith.
  • Hazrat Omar also asked to submit all ahadith in possession of the public who were under oath and then ignited them all.
  • He also sent a circular in all cities to destroy any evidence of hadith. This did not happen by chance, according to Maulana Munazar Ahsin Gilani this policy was adopted with a definite purpose in mind.

Muqaam-e-Hadith (The Actual Status of Hadith)
by Allam Perveez


3 Responses to “The Actual Status of Hadith – Part 2”

  1. Shazad Says:

    Do not have anything else dictated from me, save the Quran. If anyone of you has written any word other than the Quran, erase it!
    During Hazrat Omar’s caliphate the ahadith were in abundance. He made sure by putting the people under oath that whatever hadith the people had in their possession ought to be brought before him. As ordered, the public submitted whatever they possessed. He then ordered to make a public bonfire of those hadiths.” (vol.5, page 141)
    Please can you tell me exactly where these hadith are written, in which book i.e muslim, bukhari etc. I need this to show some traditional muslims proof as to why hadiths should not be 100% relied on.

  2. shez Says:

    I think its in Bukhari but not sure. Let me find it out for you.


  3. Hassaan Says:

    Dear sir, Words of Prophet Muhammad(S.A.W.) dont mean to destroy all Ahadith but to destroy the ones which were general sayings of him…not related to religion (THE QURAN). And if you say that all Ahadith have been bonfired then what do you think about the Authentic Ahadith books which are accepted as most authentic books in the world after THE HOLY QURAN.

    Thanks n Wasalam

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: