Monday, November 8, 2010

A Brief Intro to the Science of Hadith

Saturday 6th November 2010

Alhamdulillah, we completed the kitab Wishahul Afrah wa Isbahul Falah on 30th October. Last Saturday we opened a new kitab – on hadith. Dependent on Allah's will, Ustaz Zakaria shall hold this lesson every Saturday at 10 am. Every one – men, women, children are welcome, and the lesson is free.

Translated from Mestika Hadis published by The Division of Islamic Affairs, Prime Minister's Department, 1973.

Definition of Hadith Nabawi and Hadith Qudsi

Hadith Nabawi

It refers to what has reached us regarding sayings and actions of the Prophet Muhammad sallallahu alaihi wasallam, and his taqrir (silence) on certain actions of his companions when he became aware about them. This hadith (pl. ahadith) also refers to the physical descriptions and excellent personality of the Pophet sallallahu alaihi wasallam.

Hadith Qudsi

It refers to the words of Allah, as narrated by the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wasallam, described in the Prophet's own words. It is different from al-Quran al-Karim, the Kalam of Allah Ta'ala, which arrangement and pronunciation revealed upon the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wasallam. The Prophet sallallahu alaihi wasallam then was ordered to spread it to all mankind.

Every hadith has its isnad

The era of the companions and the time hadith being collected and recorded in books spanned many generations. Therefore each hadith carries an isnad.

An isnad (pl. sanad) is a silsilah (chain of narrations) consisted of narrators listed one by one. The isnad begins with the name of one's shaykh (teacher) and ends with the name of the companion receiving the hadith directly from Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam.

Upon inspection of the isnad and the characters of the narrator (rawi), a hadith can further be classified into many categories.

Hadith Mutawatir

Some ahadith are popularly narrated by many rawi in each level of the isnad, so popular it is impossible that all of them would conceive a plot to make up the hadith. These ahadith are known as "Hadith Mutawatir". The status of these ahadith are strong and they become proofs to Islamic ruling. It is not permissible to reject or deny these ahadith.

Hadith Sahih, Hasan, and Dho'if

Some other ahadith do not reach the level of Mutawatir due to the lesser number of narrators. They are divided into 3 categories: Sahih, Hasan, and Dho'if.

Hadith Sahih

A hadith that satisfies 5 prerequisites is called a sahih (authentic) hadith:

  1. Unbroken isnad – the rawi are interconnected continuously from the beginning to the end.
  2. Each rawi is of impeccable character ('adl).
  3. Each rawi is of strong memory (dhobit) – or the hadith is legibly and neatly recorded, if written in a book.
  4. The particular hadith being narrated is not in disagreement with another hadith being narrated by a more reliable narrator.
  5. The hadith is free of defect (oddities, irregularities). What is considered defect and what is not is a long discussion, and not covered here.

Hadith Hasan

Hadith Hasan (sound) passes the 5 Sahih qualifications above,. However the level of 'adl and dhobit of its narrators are of slightly lower standard.

Hadith Dho'if

A dho'if (weak) hadith is a hadith failing any of the 5 qualifications stated.

Place of Ahadith

Sahih or Hasan ahadith are among the founding platform of Islamic Syari'ah; they are for daily practice and used as proofs to establish a ruling. Dho'if ahadith are not valid as legal proofs, but can be used to show merit of good deeds, thus encouraging the good; and to create fear of evil deeds and discourage the bad.

Identifying category of Hadith

A decision whether a hadith is Sahih, Hasan, or Dho'if is based on the superficial characteristics of the rawi and isnad. The decision could never be final, because there is always a chance of error on judging a rawi's trustworthiness; not to mention that even a liar sometimes speak the truth. We leave the absolute judgment to Allah.

Ustaz Zakaria said:

  1. I studied Nailul Autar from Haji Hussin Besut; and Muwatta' from Haji Abdul Qadir Pondok Ga'al; plus some more Jawi kitab.
  2. When ulama included a hadith without isnad in their kitab and said it is sahih etc., we take their word for it. They know better, who are we to dispute?
  3. The new trend these days are to reject dho'if hadith, come a few years they will tell you to reject all ahadith altogether. Then we become like Kassim Ahmad.
  4. You still get rewarded for practicing a dho'if hadith, such as in wearing a turban. If you belittle dho'if hadith, you in danger of becoming a fasiq (sinner).
  5. A fasiq is not qualified to lead a prayer (become an imam) in Hanafi mazhab. To them beard is compulsory, so solah is not valid behind a clean shaven man according to Hanafi.
  6. In Hanbali mazhab, a dho'if hadith can be used as a proof, if it is supported by other ahadith.
  7. Ulama of old dislike to argue.
  8. There are ahadith as acknowledged by older kitab, but lowered to mere "sayings of ulama" in the newer publishings. I trust the older kitab better. Examples of these ahadith:
    1. The beginning of deen is to know Allah (awwaluddin ma'rifatullah).
    2. He who knows his self, knows his God (man 'arafa nafsahu 'arafa rabbahu).
  9. Never try to do instinbath just by reading a hadith. Besides 'ilm mustalah hadith, you have to master other branches of Islamic knowledge as well (nahu, sorof, asbabun nuzul etc) before you are qualified to derive ruling.
  10. A dho'if hadith is still a hadith and deserves respect. In tasawwuf, a 40-year old who does not carry walking stick is considered takabbur (arrogant). He is not fit for Paradise.
  11. Among the old ulama who carried walking stick include Haji Daud Bukit Abal, Tok Man (?), Haji Musafa Pasir Tumbuh, Haji Mahmud Bukit Besar Kedah (Janggut Merah).
  12. An 'alim once said "It amazes me these young ustazs who graduated overseas, they come back and teach Tafsir, Hadith, but do not have an inch of turban around their head. What is use of knowledge without practice?"
  13. Students who are not wara' (respectful) of knowledge – do not practice what they know - might graduate and become teachers, but Allah will afflict them with 3 miseries:
    1. They die young.
    2. They are isolated from the masses.
    3. They become "yes man" to the rulers.

Wallahu a'lam

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