WHEN WAS THE HADITH WRITTEN?

the-compilation-of-hadith

by Dr. Kaukab Siddique [Pennsylvania]
Is It True That Hadith Were Not Written in the time of the Prophet, pbuh?
Were Qur’an and Hadith transmitted by same people or different ones?

Question from Sis. N. in Detroit

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 ?

ANSWER by Kaukab Siddique:

Unfortunately it seems from his writings that Dr. Fazlur Rahman was significantly influenced by Christian missionaries and Jewish orientalists.

His writings were such that they confused the Muslims of Pakistan. However he had the support of the military government, but eventually 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) who 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 QUR’AN was also MEMORIZED by the Sahaba. 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.

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 creatre 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 abusing when he claimed that Hadith was written in the third century after the Prophet. Fazlur Rahman really was quite ignorant of Hadith and hence recklessly fell into the trap set for him by Christian missionaries and Jewish orientalists.

WAS HADITH WRITTEN in the TIME OF THE PROPHET (pbuh)?

Yes! the evidence is overwhelming.

Here is one sample from a prominent companion of the Prophet, pbuh, Abdullah ibn Umru ibn al-Aas. It is authenticated by two distinct and separate compilers of Hadith, Abu Dawud in his Sunan (chapter kitabut al-ilm) and Darimi in his Musnad (chapter on Rukhs fi kitabut al-ilm):

“Whatever I heard from the messenger of Allah, peace be on him, I would write it down so as to be able to memorize it. Then some in the Quraish (tribe) said to me: You write down whatever you hear though the messenger of Allah is a human being and speaks both in anger and in joy. On hearing that I stopped writing and then I mentioned this to the messenger of Allah. He pointed with his finger to his mouth and said: Write on! By Him in whose Hand is my being, no word comes out of this mouth but the Truth.”
Abdullah ibn Umru (r.a.) collected the Hadith he had written in the presence of the Prophet (pbuh) in a book titled Al-Sadiqa. Abdullah said: “There are two things I love in life: Al-Sadiqa and al-Wahat.” He explained: “Al-Sadiqa is that manuscript which I heard and wrote from the messenger of Allah and Wahat is that land which (my father) Umru ibn al-Aas donated to the cause of Allah and which I take care of.” [Darimi’s Sunan.]

The compendium Tahzeeb al-Tahzeeb tells us that on the death of Abdullah, r.a, the manuscript of Al-Sadiqa was secured by his grandson Shuaib bin Muhammad and then transmitted to the next generation by his son also named Umru. THE HADITH WRITTEN BY Abdullah, r.a., DIRECTLY FROM THE PROPHET, pbuh, AND AT HIS COMMAND, are to be found in the collections of Hadith which we have under this chain of narration:

“From Umru son of Shuaib from his father from his grandfather.” As Hadith is a very strict discipline, some classical scholars wanted to classify the collection as Mursal because they thought the grandson should have SAT DOWN IN FRONT OF THE GRANDFATHER AND RECITED THE WHOLE COLLECTION TO HIM FROM MEMORY! However, some of the greatest scholars of Hadith, like Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, accept the authenticity of Al-Sadiqa.

What makes Al-Sadiqa’s authenticity irrefutable is that it was also transmitted by OTHER STUDENTS of Abdullah (r.a.) who had nothing to do with his grandson.

So, don’t let anyone tell you that Hadith was not written in the time of the Prophet, pbuh.

FINALLY, spend a couple of months in trying to understand this verse of the Qur’an. It will help you to understand why the Hadith is essential and ALWAYS goes with the Qur’an:

“The Prophet is closer to the believers than their own selves, and his wives are their mothers. [33:6 ]

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About Kaukab Siddique PhD

Professor of English, World Literature and Journalism at Lincoln University. Research specialization in Women and Islam

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