Question from Sis. N. In Detroit [From a long letter]:
I am originally from Iran, moving to real Islam, Qur’an and Hadith. I read a good book by Fazlur Rahman (Chicago University) but it confused me on some points. He writes, Hadith was written in third century after the Prophet. New Trend’s web site says follow Qur’an and Hadith. I am confused please explain why Hadith was not written in time of the Prophet pbuh ?
ANSWER PART TWO OF TWO
Dr. Fazlur Rahman was influenced by Christian missionaries and Jewish orientalists. He tried to confuse the Muslims of Pakistan, with the support of the military government, but was defeated and fled to America where he was immediately given a senior position at Chicago University to teach Islam.
Both the Qur’an and the Hadith were written down in the time of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). The Qur’an is the word of Allah revealed to Muhammad (peace be on him). The Hadith is the commentary, explanation, implementation of the Qur’an by Muhammad (pbuh). Both are interlinked and essential to each other. No authentic Islamic scholar has ever tried to say that Hadith is not necessary or was written later.
The people, who wrote down the Qur’an, on bits and pieces of materials, were the SAHABA or companions of the Prophet (pbuh). Paper and printing were not available at that time. So, people could not go around with printed and bound copies of the Qur’an. Even the collation and putting together of the Qur’an was done by the SAHABA so that the Qur’an became a BOOK between two covers after the Prophet (pbuh) passed away. This great work was done under the supervision of Abu Bakr, Umar, Osman and Ali (may Allah be pleased with them all). They were the first four rightly guided Caliphs of Islam.
The same SAHABA also wrote and transmitted the Hadith and made sure that nothing was falsely attributed to the Prophet (pbuh).
The Sahaba also MEMORIZED the QUR’AN. In fact few of them had it in writing but many of them knew it from memory. The cross checking of memory with writing was carried out to make sure that the Qur’an as revealed to the Prophet, pbuh, was transmitted to future generations and across continents as people in droves embraced islam:
بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
[110:1] Yusuf Ali
When comes the Help of Allah, and Victory,
[110:2] Yusuf Ali
And thou dost see the people enter Allah’s Religion in crowds,
The HADITH was also memorized by the SAHABA and transmitted to future generations. Any scholar of Hadith had to MEMORIZE the HADITH from the written collections of the Sahaba and then RECITE IT FROM MEMORY to his/her teacher. Thus an accurate record of the Prophet’s, pbuh, life and teachings was enshrined in the scholarship of the Muslim world.
In the era after the SAHABA various kinds of sects arose which tried to disseminate their own versions of the Qur’an. Some of them claimed that Hazrat Ali (r.a.) had received suras of the Qur’an from the Prophet, pbuh, which no one else had. The scholars of the line of Ali (r.a.) and Fatima (r.a.), such as Imam Jafar and Imam Baqir, were able to repudiate these claims because they had the Qur’an both by memory and in writing.
Similarly attempts were made to invent “Hadith.” This was a very serious effort by Kings and emperors who wanted religion to justify their tyranny and to create a “tame Islam.” The problem was aggravated by the fact that various SAHABA had migrated to various cities, and after they passed away, various people could claim that they had heard Hadith from them.
It was in that context that great scholars like Imam Bukhari stepped forward to ENSURE that fabrications did not enter the corpus of Hadith. I think that these scholars were a bit too strict and as a result they sometimes designated as “weak” even those Hadith which were authentic but which would not pass the test of extremely severe scrutiny.
Imam Bukhari and other imams are the ones Dr. Fazlur Rahman was quoting without confirming hadith chronology when he claimed that Hadith was written in the third century after the Prophet pbuh.
Unfortunately Fazlur Rahman was ignorant of the chronology of the collection and documentation of the Hadith and hence recklessly fell into the trap set for him by Christian missionaries and Jewish orientalists.
May Allah Subhanawataala forgive us for our mistakes.