Category Archives: Quranists/ Hadith Rejectors

The Kufr of Rejecting Hadith

Some people say that they believe in only the Qur’ān, not in Hadith. They reject all Ahaadith claiming it to be spurious, and fabrications. Please expound on this issue in the light of the Qur’ān.

ANSWER (by Mujlisul Ulama): 
The deniers of Hadith are in reality rejectors of the Qur’ān. They are confirmed kuffaar. They are among the Munaafiqeen breed of kuffaar. It is not possible to honestly believe in the Qur’ān without believing in Hadith. Minus Hadith there is no Qur’ān – no Islam. The entire structure of Islam – its foundation and its edifice are 100% reliant on Hadith.

On what basis do these moron munaafiqeen/ kuffaar believe in the authenticity of the Qur’ān? The Shiahs, presenting their “rationale” for rejecting the authenticity of the Qur’ān, claim that the compilers of the Qur’ān, namely the Sahaabah, had reneged from Islam becoming murtaddeen, hence a compilation by them is a false fabrication. This is their convoluted satanic logic for presenting ‘logical’ argument to deny the authenticity of the Qur’ān. On the other hand, these modernist kuffaar professing to be Muslims “accept”, that is ostensibly in the manner of the Munaafiqeen, the authenticity of the Qur’ān, but in common with the Shiahs deny the integrity of the Sahaabah. Thus, their ‘acceptance’ of the Qur’ān is more illogic than the Shiah deniers of the Qur’ān.

The deniers of Hadith (the modernist zanaadaqah) have absolutely no valid, rational and logical daleel (proof) for claiming that the Qur’ān is authentic that the Qur’ān is Divine Revelation (Wahi) – that it was Jibraeel (Alayhis Salaam) who had conveyed the Divine Revelation to Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam).

All these irrefutable facts and information, and the entire Structure of Islam is substantiated by the Hadith. The imperative corollary for accepting the authenticity of the Qur’ān is acceptance of the authenticity of Hadith.

The Qur’ān was not revealed in a completed book form. It did not descend from the clouds in a compiled book as did the Tauraah to Nabi Musa (Alayhis Salaam). The zanaadaqah will agree that the Qur’ān was revealed over a period of many years – 23 years. Since they do accept this irrefutable fact, they are obliged to answer rationally the following questions:

1. How do you know that the Qur’ān is the Book of Allah?

2. How do you know that the Qur’ān is an authentic Book?

3. How do you know that the Qur’ān was authentically piled?

4. How do you know that the order in which the Verses and Surahs is divine or was instructed by Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam)?

5. How do you know of the validity of the different modes of Qiraa’t?

6. How do you know that command to perform Salaat mentioned numerous times in the Qur’ān refer to specifically the five daily Salaat? The Qur’ān does not provide any precise information in this regard.

7. How do you know the number of the fardh and Sunnat raka’ts of each of the five daily Salaat?

8. How do you know of the specific modality of Salaat that it requires, Qiyām, Ruku, Qa’dah, Sajdah, etc. etc.? Nothing of these rules is mentioned in the Qur’ān.

9. Similarly, how do you know of the vast multitude of rules and regulations governing all spheres of Islam is Life? There is  no reference to these laws, tenets, practices, etc. in the Qur’ān.

10. Yes, how do you know that the Qur’ān was revealed to Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam)?

The answers to these questions are obtainable from only the Hadith. There is absolutely no other source besides the Hadith for accepting the Qur’ān as the kitaab of Allah Ta’ala. Those who reject Hadith, in reality reject Allah Ta’ala. Confirming this truth, the Qur’ān Majid states:

“Verily, those who commit kufr with Allah and His Messengers, and they intend to differentiate between Allah (i.e. His Kitaab) and His Messengers (i.e. the Ahaadith), and they say: “We believe in a portion (i.e the Qur’ān) and we reject a portion (i.e the Hadith), thereby intending to follow a path (of their base desires) in between, indeed they are the veritable kaafiroon. We have prepared for the kaafireen a disgraceful punishment. [An-Nisā,  Aayaat 150, 151]

In these gracious verses, Allah Ta’ala states with profound clarity that those who reject Hadith, i.e. the statements and practices of the Nabi, are Kaafiroon. To emphasize the incorrigible kufr of these Zanaadaqah and Munaafiqeen, Allah Ta’ala uses the term haqqan which means in reality, without doubting, most certainly. There is not a vestige of doubt in the kufr of the Zanaadaqah who deny and reject Hadith. Denial of Hadith is in fact  denial of the Qur’ān. It is tantamount to accepting a part of the Qur’ān and rejecting a part. And this renders these types of morons ‘kaafiroon haq-qan’.

Commanding acceptance of Hadith, Allah Ta’ala says:

“Whoever obeys the Rasool, verily he has obeyed Allah. And whoever turns away (rejecting the Hadith of the Rasool), then (know) that We did not send you (O Muhammad!) as a guard over them.” [An-Nisā, 79]

Without accepting what the Rasool said and had done, it is not possible to accept and obey Allah Ta’ala. What Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said, is Hadith. Whatever he did, is Hadith. This āyat and many other Qur’aanic verses explicitly state that obedience to Allah Ta’ala is inextricably interwoven with obediences to His Rasool.

“Hold on to that which he (the Nabi) gives you. And abstain from whatever he forbids you.” [Al-Hashr, 7]

Rasulullah’s acts which the Qur’ān commands us to adhere to, and his prohibitions from which we have to abstain are all in the Hadith, not in the Qur’ān.

It should be well understood that the reality of Hadith rejection is Qur’ān rejection. When Hadith is rejected, Allah Ta’ala is rejected. Stating this reality, the Qur’ān says:

“Verily, we are aware that you (O Muhammad!) are grieved by what they are saying. (But in reality) most certainly, they are not belying (rejecting) you. But (on the contrary), the zaalimeen (brutal oppressors) are denying the Aayaat (i.e the Qur’ān) of Allah.” [An’aam, 33]

Belief in the Qur’ān without belief in the Hadith is a Qur’ānic and a rational impossibility. An ‘islam’ developed on the Qur’ān minus Hadith, is Satanism. It is a religion of Shaitaan.

These moron modernist zanaadaqah who are the slaves of base desire and the agents of Iblees deny Hadith in order to perpetrate unbridled corrupt interpretation of the Aayaat of the Qur’ān to appease their whimsical shaitaani fancies and the lustful dictates of the nafs. Since the Hadith places a firm clamp on their inordinate nafsaani cravings, they deny and reject one great portion of Wahi (Divine Revelation), namely, Hadith. In so doing, these modernist Juhhaal are, in Qur’ānic terminology: “Kafiroon Haq-qan.”

Response to the Modernist Contention: “It is Not in the Qur’aan!”

By Mujlisul Ulama

SOME IGNORAMUSES WHEN arguing to negate a confirmed tenet of the Shariah, surface with the retort: “It is not in the Qur’aan!”. At the juncture when this argument is presented, it should be realized that the best response for such mental density and total ignorance is to adopt the following Qur’aanic advice: “And when the jaahlioon (ignoramuses) address them (the Mu’mineen), they say: ‘Peace”. In other words, the intelligent Mu’min honourably terminates the discussion and does not degenerate to the level of ignorance of his adversary.

In the context of academic and rational debate and discussion, the aforementioned retort perhaps is the lowest ebb of ignorance. A man who is equipped with even a basic understanding of the Shariah – he need not be an Aalim – understands the ludicrousness of this argument which exposes the total jahaalat (ignorance) of the one presenting this stupidity.

Firstly, the invalidity of this argument is conspicuously manifest because the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama’ah (the Followers of the Four Math-habs) do not claim that Islam with its Divine Shariah is confined to the Qur’aan Majeed. It never was the contention of any authority of the Shariah, that everything of Islam is to be found in the Qur’aan in detailed form. It is not contended that the Qur’aan is the only Source of the Shariah. This retort would be appropriate only if directed to deviates who claim that every iota of the Islamic Shariah is found in the Qur’aan. But we are not concerned with such deviates. There may be a deviate sect known as Ahlul Qur’aan, who may proffer the preposterous principle that whatever is not in the Qur’aan is not Islam. But there never existed such a legal quibble in the jurisprudence of the Shariah.

The absence of a specific rule, teaching, custom, practice, etc. from the Qur’aan is not grounds for invalidity or spuriousness of such a tenet. Morons for example argue that since the incumbency of the beard is not stated in the Qur’aan, keeping a beard is not Waajib (obligatory). Morons of this calibre who operate within the extremely restrictive confines of their ignorance and lack of knowledge of the Shariah are too dense in the mind to understand that the performance of the five daily Fardh Salaat too is not found in the Qur’aan. The number of Fardh, Sunnat, Witr and Nafl raka’ts, the methodology of Salaat such as the particular method of Qiyaam, Ruku’, Sajdah, Qiraa’t, folding the hands, Qa’dah, Tashahhud, Durood, Dua, Salaam and the myriad of specific masaail related to Salaat are not to be found anywhere in the Qur’aan.

In fact, the term ‘salaat’ literally means to supplicate, to bestow blessings, to praise, tasbeeh (to glorify), mercy, etc. It does not mean the specific and peculiar style of Islamic prayer which we perform five times a day. Similarly, Zakaat and the innumerable rules regulating this fundamental institution of Islam are not to be found anywhere in the Qur’aan. 

The Qur’aan merely commands: “Establish Salaah and give Zakaah”. If the stupid ‘principle’, ‘it is not in the Qur’aan’, has to be applied, 95% of the Shariah will have to be expunged. The Qur’aan is the Divine Scripture of Guidance in which reference is made to some tenets of Islam, and on the basis of which the Aimmah-e-Mujtahideen (the highest category of Jurists of Islam) have evolved the immutable Usool (Principles) of the Islamic Shariah.

The greater part of the Shariah comprises of the teachings of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) which are encapsulated in his verbal pronouncements and practical demonstrations. Further, a great part of Islam is based on Qur’aanic and Hadith principles evolved by the Aimmah-e-Mujtahideen. Thus, the argument: ‘It is not in the Qur’aan’, is the dictum of morons who are academically bankrupt, and who are absolutely bereft of the slightest vestige of congeniality with knowledge. The Sources of Islam are Kitaabullah (The Qur’aan), the Sunnah (the verbal and practical expressions of Rasulullah – sallallahu alayhi wasallam), Ijma’ (the Consensus of the Authorities of Islam), and Qiyaas (the Shariah’s process of Analogical Reasoning).

So, when any crank or moron flings the argument, ‘It is not in the Qur’aan’, your only response should be: “Our Islam is not confined to the Qur’aan. Peace on you. We do not engage the Jaahileen in discussion.”

Refuting Rashad Khalifa’s Difference between Prophet and Messenger

By Ebrahim Saifuddin

Rashad Khalifa (the mini-dajjal), claimed to be a messenger of Allah Ta’ala and to justify that messengers can come even after Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), he inversed the definitions of the words ‘prophet’ and ‘messenger’. His followers known as ‘Submitters’ or ‘Submitters International’, back this claim of his and choose to accept the misinterpretations given by him. Muslims believe that the difference between a prophet and a messenger is that messengers are sent to a particular nation. A prophet also always follows the law given to the messenger before him and does not introduce new laws. Messengers on the other hand either bring in completely new laws or alter the laws of the past. These are the fundamentals differences between a messenger and a prophet. In short, all messengers are prophets but all prophets are not messengers.

Rashad’s Misinterpretation and its Refutation

Rashad Khalifa however wishes to intertwine and twist one verse of the Qur’an to show that the definitions are the other way round. He quotes the Qur’an:

When Allah made (His) covenant with the prophets, (He said): Behold that which I have given you of the Scripture and knowledge. And afterward there will come unto you a messenger, confirming that which ye possess. Ye shall believe in him and ye shall help him. He said: Do ye agree, and will ye take up My burden (which I lay upon you) in this (matter)? They answered: We agree. He said: Then bear ye witness. I will be a witness with you. – [Qur’an 3:81]

Then he distorts the meaning of the verse saying that prophets are the ones to receive a Scripture and knowledge while the messengers are the ones who come to confirm what was revealed to the prophets. A proper analysis of the verse would prove that Rashad Khalifa only misinterpreted and twisted the meaning of the above verse.

This verse speaks about the time when man was not yet physically created but existed spiritually with their Lord. Then Allah Ta’ala took the covenant from the prophets. Do note that the verse says “then comes to you a messenger”, the phrase “a messenger” is very important in trying to understand this verse. This verse is speaking of a single messenger that will come and all the prophets will have to believe in him. Who is this single messenger that will come confirming that which is with the ones in the past? That messenger is none other than Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) who came after all the ones in the past and confirmed to that which was sent to them. Had this verse said, “then comes to you messengers, confirming what is with you”, then Rashad could have had a stronger foundation to build his misinterpretations upon.

Further, Rashad Khalifa wishes to imply that this verse includes Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and this it cannot be referring to him. The answer to this lies in the Qur’an itself. When we read the context of the verse we see that 3:81 is part of the evidence that Allah Ta’ala is giving to the people who doubted the prophethood of Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). Later on it continues and in 3:84 we see Allah Ta’ala saying:

Say (O Muhammad): We believe in Allah and that which is revealed unto us and that which was revealed unto Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the tribes, and that which was vouchsafed unto Moses and Jesus and the prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and unto Him we have surrendered. – [Qur’an 3:84]

This is the messenger which Allah Ta’ala referred to as “a messenger” who will confirm that which was sent before him and thus is evidence enough to know that Prophet Muhammad was not included in the verse 3:81. If the verse 3:81 was referring to Rashad then 3:84 would have included the name of Prophet Muhammad (salallahu alayhi wasallam) as well.

Moreover this also proves that Rashad’s claim that it is the prophets and not the messengers who receive the Book is seriously flawed because Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), a messenger according to these verses, did receive a Book.

Scriptures were also given to the prophets but the difference was that they did not have in them the law. For example Ibrahim (alayhissalaam) who is always referred to in the Quran as a ‘prophet’ was given suhufi as seen from the Quran:

But the Hereafter is better and more enduring. And this is in the Books of the earliest (Revelation),- The Books of Abraham and Moses. – [Qur’an 87:17-19]

Thus the Quranic verse is not incorrect in any sense when applying the true meaning of prophets and messengers. Prophets did get books and so did the messengers and thus when the Quran says ‘prophets’ it encompasses all the prophets who did get the books which include messengers. It is thus obvious that receiving a scripture is not the criteria to differentiate between a prophet and a messenger.

Evidence Supporting Rashad and its Refutation

Supporting evidence provided by people who wish to cling onto the misinterpretation by Rashid is the following verse:

And remember We took from the prophets their covenant: As (We did) from thee: from Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus the son of Mary: We took from them a solemn covenant: – [Qur’an 33:7]

Thus they conclude that this verse is referring to 3:81 and as a result Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) is included in 3:81. What they fail to do is read the very next verse which says:

That (Allah) may question the (custodians) of Truth concerning the Truth they (were charged with): And He has prepared for the Unbelievers a grievous Penalty. – [Qur’an 33:8]

Reading this verse makes it clear that Allah Ta’ala is referring to a different covenant and not the one in 3:81. Hence without a question Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) is the one referred to in 3:81 and is not
included in the verse.

Analysis of other verses quoted by Rashad Khalifa

“Never would a human being whom GOD blessed with the scripture and prophethood say to the people, “Idolize me beside GOD.” Instead, (he would say), “Devote yourselves absolutely to your Lord alone,” according to the scripture you preach and the teachings you learn.”  – [Qur’an 3:79]

“Those were the ones to whom we have given the scripture, wisdom, and prophethood. If these people disbelieve, we will substitute others in their place, and the new people will not be disbelievers.”  – [Qur’an 6:89]

“We granted him Isaac and Jacob, we assigned to his descendants prophethood and the scriptures, we endowed him with his due recompense in this life, and in the Hereafter he will surely be with the righteous.” – [Qur’an 29:27]

“We have given the Children of Israel the scripture, wisdom, and prophethood, and provided them with good provisions; we bestowed upon them more blessings than any other people.” – [Qur”an 45:16]

“We sent Noah and Abraham, and we granted their descendants prophethood and the scripture. Some of them were guided, while many were wicked.”  – [Qur’an 57:26]

Using all these verses Rashad Khalifa wants to prove that it is not the messengers but the prophets who receive the books. A person who believes in this misinterpretation of Rashad Khalifa would know at a glance that these verses do not support his claim and instead support the Muslim view. I will use Rashad Khalifa’s interpretation to refute his claim. According to him, prophets are the ones to whom are given the books. So if we are to take that explanation, why does the Quran mention the two separately in all these cases? Shouldn’t it then be obvious that a person given prophethood will be given a book? Why does the Quran mention them separately? Mentioning them separately would mean that while they are given prophethood, which is one thing, they are also given scriptures, which is another. Hence prophethood does not necessarily mean that they are given the scriptures.

Rashad Khalifa’s explanation stands on a very weak foundation and thus crumbles at the simplest of analysis.


Rashad Khalifa’s difference between a prophet and a messenger has been disproved throughout this article. The entire foundation of the misinterpretation by Rashad is based on a single verse from the Quran (Chapter 3, verse 81). The explanation of the verse is given in this article and it clearly refutes Rashid Khalifa. The verse does not include Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and is referring to the coming of Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). It refers to Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) as a messenger who will come to attest that
which was sent before him. Messengers are sent with some changes in the previous law. Some might argue that Prophet ‘Eesa (alayhissalaam) did not change the law but they are incorrect in this assumption. The Qur’an mentions prophet ‘Eesa (alayhissalaam) saying:

(I have come to you), to attest the Law which was before me. And to make lawful to you part of what was (Before) forbidden to you; I have come to you with a Sign from your Lord. So fear Allah, and obey me.” – [Qur’an 3:50]

Thus it is seen that Prophet ‘Eesa (alayhissalaam) did bring a change in the law and thus is referred to as in the Quran as a Messenger. Prophet Ibrahim(as) did not bring a law but did receive a book and thus is referred to
as only a Prophet.

Hence it is evident that all Messengers are prophets but all prophets are not Messengers.

Can a Hadith be Rejected on the Excuse that “It Contradicts ‘Intellect’/‘Reason’ or the Principles of Sharī‘ah”??

Can I Reject a Ḥadīth because I feel that it contradicts ‘Intellect’/‘Reason’ or the Principles of Sharī‘ah?

By Mufti Muadh Chati


Bismillāhir Raḥmānir Raḥīm,

Indeed, the Aḥādīth of the Prophet Ṣallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wasallam hold a sacred place in the hearts of Muslims. The Aḥādīth are considered a primary source of Sharī‘ah and contain essential commands and advices that construct the edifice of Sharī‘ah.

Allah the Almighty says:

ﻟَﻘَﺪْ ﻛَﺎﻥَ ﻟَﻜُﻢْ ﻓِﻲْ ﺭَﺳُﻮْﻝِ ﺍﻟﻠﻪِ ﺃُﺳْﻮَﺓٌ ﺣَﺴَﻨَﺔٌ ﻟِﻤَﻦْ ﻛَﺎﻥَ ﻳَﺮْﺟُﻮﺍ ﺍﻟﻠﻪَ ﻭَﺍﻟْﻴَﻮْﻡَ ﺍﻵﺧِﺮَ ﻭَﺫَﻛَﺮَ ﺍﻟﻠﻪَ ﻛَﺜِﻴْﺮًﺍ

“There has certainly been for you in the Messenger of Allah the most excellent example for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Last Day and [who] remembers Allah often”

[Surah Al-Aḥzāb, verse 21]]

Allah the Almighty says:

ﻭَﻣَﺎ ﻳَﻨْﻄِﻖُ ﻋَﻦِ ﺍﻟْﻬَﻮَﻯ ﺇِﻥْ ﻫُﻮَ ﺇِﻟَّﺎ ﻭَﺣْﻲٌ ﻳُﻮْﺣَﻰ


“He (the Prophet Ṣallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wasallam) does not speak through his own inclination; it is but a [divinely] revealed revelation”

[Surah Al-Najm, verse 3-4]

Recently, claims have been made by reformists that it is permissible to reject a noble Ḥadīth if one feels that it contradicts one’s intellect or one feels that it contradicts the principles and objectives of Sharī‘ah.

For example, these reformists have claimed that a narration found in Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī that purports that one wing of a fly contains an illness while the other contains a cure contradicts the intellect. This is despite the fact that it does not contradict the intellect at all, in fact, many modern-day cures contain remnants of the disease itself, as is the case with anti-venom; it is made using venom.

Some reformists have claimed that the narration narrated in Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī that purports that Mūsā ‘Alayh al-Salām placed his clothes on a stone that ran away, contradicts the principles of Sharī‘ah as it involves an unclothed Prophet running after his clothes. This is despite the fact that this does not contradict the principles of Sharī‘ah at all, in fact, the Qur’ān informs us of the story of Ādam ‘Alayh al-Salām and Hawā ‘Alayhā al-Salām, which contains similar elements to this narration.

Other reformists have claimed that a narration narrated in Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī that purports that the Prophet Ṣallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wasallam was temporarily affected by black magic that had been casted by his enemies contradicts the principles of Sharī‘ah as it involves a Prophet being affected by black magic. This is despite the fact that the Prophet Ṣallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wasallam was a human being, and thus, he experienced many of the difficulties that a human being goes through, such as illnesses and the pangs of death.

These claims of rejecting Aḥādīth on the assumption that they contradict the intellect or the principles and objectives of Sharī‘ah are claimed to be validated by statements of the scholars of the past such as Ibn al-Jawzī Raḥimahullah (d.597 AH).

In the coming article, we intend to discuss two issues:

1) Can a narration be labelled as a fabrication if I feel that it is contradictory to intellect/reason?

2) Can a narration be labelled as a fabrication if I feel that it contradicts the principles and objectives of Sharī‘ah?

Note: In order to gain a better grasp of this article, readers are advised to read the entire article.

Can a narration be labelled as a fabrication if I feel that it is contradictory to ‘intellect’/‘reason’?

The Role of the Intellect/Reason in Sharī‘ah

An intellectual person is able to comprehend that his eyes, ears, nose, and other limbs have limitations. Human beings do not have the ability to see in the dark, nor do they have the ability to hear certain sound frequencies, and nor are they are able to smell certain odors. It then makes sense to state that if all the faculties of our body are confined by boundaries, then our intellect must also have a limit.

If this is coupled with the fact that we have been obliged to follow the commandments of the noble Sharī‘ah, whatever they may be, we are able to deduce that we are required to follow the commandments of Sharī‘ah regardless of whether they fall within the limitations of our intellect or outside of the limitations of our intellect.

If the Sharī‘ah were to be based exactly in accordance to our intellect, there would be no aspect of faith/belief (Ῑmān ) and the Sharī‘ah would inevitably serve the dictates of our innate self (nafs). The Sharī‘ah was sent in order to free each individual from the grasps of his innate self (nafs), it was not sent to become subservient to the innate self (nafs).

Imām Al-Bazdawī Raḥimahullah (d.482 AH) writes:

ﻭَﺃَﻥَّ ﺍﻟْﻌَﻘْﻞَ ﻟَﺎ ﻳَﻨْﻔَﻚُّ ﻋَﻦِ ﺍﻟْﻬَﻮَﻯ ﻓَﻠَﺎ ﻳَﺼْﻠُﺢُ ﺣُﺠَّﺔً ﺑِﻨَﻔْﺴِﻪِ ﺑِﺤَﺎﻝٍ
“And the intellect/reason is not free from desires (hawā ), thus it alone can never serve as evidence”

[Imām Al-Bazdawī Raḥimahullah, ‘Uṣūl al-Bazdawī’, (Karachi: Mīr Muḥammad Kutub Khānāh, n.a), pg.323]

We are required to follow the commandments and dictates of Allah and His Messenger Ṣallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wasallam; this is regardless of whether their commandments gain the support of our feeble intellect or the support of capricious scientific research.

As ‘Allāmah al-Qurṭubī Raḥimahullah (d.671 AH) explains:

ﺇِﻥَّ ﺍﻟﻠﻪَ ﺳُﺒْﺤَﺎﻧَﻪُ ﻟَﻢْ ﻳَﺒْﻦِ ﺃُﻣُﻮْﺭَ ﺍﻟﺪِّﻳْﻦِ ﻋَﻠَﻰ ﻋُﻘُﻮْﻝِ ﺍﻟْﻌِﺒَﺎﺩِ ﻭَﻟَﻢْ ﻳَﻌِﺪْ ﻭَﻟَﻢْ ﻳُﻮْﻋِﺪْ ﻋَﻠَﻰ ﻣَﺎ ﺗَﺤْﺘَﻤِﻠُﻪُ ﻋُﻘُﻮْﻟُﻬُﻢْ ﻭَﻳُﺪْﺭِﻛُﻮْﻧَﻬَﺎ ﺑِﺄَﻓْﻬَﺎﻣِﻬِﻢْ ﺑَﻞْ ﻭَﻋَﺪَ ﻭَﺃَﻭْﻋَﺪَ ﺑِﻤَﺸِﻴْﺌَﺘِﻪِ ﻭَﺇِﺭَﺍﺩَﺗِﻪِ ﻭَﺃَﻣَﺮَ ﻭَﻧَﻬَﻰ ﺑِﺤِﻜْﻤَﺘِﻪِ ﻭَﻟَﻮْ ﻛَﺎﻥَ ﻛُﻠَّﻤَﺎ ﻟَﺎ ﺗُﺪْﺭِﻛُﻪُ ﺍﻟْﻌُﻘُﻮْﻝُ ﻣَﺮْﺩُﻭْﺩًﺍ ﻟَﻜَﺎﻥَ ﺃَﻛْﺜَﺮَ ﺍﻟﺸَّﺮَﺍﺋِﻊِ ﻣُﺴْﺘَﺤِﻴْﻠًﺎ

“Indeed, Allah, The Exalted, did not base the matters of Dīn upon the intellect of the servants, and He did not promise or warn in accordance to what their intellects expect and understand, rather, he promised and warned according to His liking, and He commanded and prohibited with His wisdom. And if everything that the intellect does not comprehend were to be rejected, then the majority of the Sharī‘ah would be made redundant”

[‘Allāmah al-Qurṭubī, ‘Kitāb al-Tadhkirah bi-Aḥwāl al-Mawtā wa-Umūr al-Ākhirah’, (Riyad: Dār al-Minhāj, 1431 AH), pg.644, v.2]

The same applies to scientific discoveries; they are dependent upon research and investigations, the findings of which may change from time to time. Our Sharī‘ah is neither dependent nor confined by the discoveries of the modern-age. As ‘Allāmah Khaṭtābī Raḥimahullah (d.388 AH) explains:

ﻭَﻟَﻴْﺲَ ﺑِﻨَﺎ ﺣَﺎﺟَﺔٌ ﻣَﻊَ ﻗَﻮْﻝِ ﺍﻟﺮَّﺳُﻮْﻝِ ﺻَﻠَّﻰ ﺍﻟﻠﻪُ ﻋَﻠَﻴْﻪِ ﻭَﺳَﻠَّﻢَ ﺍﻟﺼَّﺎﺩِﻕُ ﺍﻟْﻤَﺼْﺪُﻭْﻕُ ﺍﻟَّﺬِﻱْ ﻳَﺄْﺗِﻴْﻪِ ﺍﻟْﻮَﺣْﻲُ ﺑِﺄَﺳْﺮَﺍﺭِ ﺍﻟْﻐَﻴْﺐِ ﺇِﻟَﻰ ﺍﻟْﺈِﺳْﺘِﺸْﻬَﺎﺩِ ﺑِﺄَﻗَﺎﻭِﻳْﻞِ ﺃَﻫْﻞِ ﺍﻟﻄِّﺐِّ ﺍﻟَّﺬِﻳْﻦَ ﺇِﻧَّﻤَﺎ ﻭَﺻَﻠُﻮْﺍ ﺇِﻟَﻰ ﻣَﺎ ﻭَﺻَﻠُﻮْﺍ ﺇِﻟَﻴْﻪِ ﻣِﻦْ ﻋِﻠْﻤِﻪِ ﺑِﻤُﻘَﺪَّﻣَﺎﺕِ ﺍﻟﺘَّﺠَﺎﺭِﺏِ ﻭَﺍﻟْﺈِﻣْﺘِﺤَﺎﻥِ ﻭَﻣِﻦْ ﻗَﻮْﻝِ ﺃُﺳْﺘَﺎﺫِﻫِﻢْ ﺑِﻘُﺮَﺍﻁَ ﻓِﻲْ ﺃَﻭَّﻝِ ﻛِﺘَﺎﺑِﻪِ : ﺍﻟﺘَّﺠْﺮِﺑَﺔُ ﺧَﻄَﺮٌ


“We have no need to present with the statement of the Prophet Sallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wasallam – the truthful, the accepted, the one to whom the revelation brought secrets of the unseen – as support, the statements of doctors, who have only acquired what they have acquired from their knowledge through experimentation and investigation, and in the words of one of their peers, Hippocrates, at the start of his book (titled Aphorisms): ‘experimentum periculosum’ (experiments are deceitful)”

[‘Allāmah Khaṭtābī, ‘A‘lām al-Ḥadīth’, (Makah: Jami‘ah Ummul Qurā, 1406 AH), pg.1126 v.3]

It is our belief that because our intellect is limited, that which benefits us can only be determined by our Creator – Whose knowledge is limitless.
Imām al-Shāṭibī Raḥimahullah (d.790 AH) writes:

ﻗَﺪْ ﻋُﻠِﻢَ ﺑِﺎﻟﺘِّﺠَﺎﺭِﺏِ ﻭَﺍﻟْﺨِﺒْﺮَﺓِ ﺍﻟﺴَّﺎﺭِﻳَﺔِ ﻓِﻲ ﺍﻟْﻌَﺎﻟَﻢِ ﻣِﻦْ ﺃَﻭَّﻝِ ﺍﻟﺪُّﻧْﻴَﺎ ﺇِﻟَﻰ ﺍﻟْﻴَﻮْﻡِ ﺃَﻥَّ ﺍﻟْﻌُﻘُﻮْﻝَ ﻏَﻴْﺮُ ﻣُﺴْﺘَﻘِﻠَّﺔٍ ﺑِﻤَﺼَﺎﻟِﺤِﻬَﺎ ﺍﺳْﺘِﺠْﻠَﺎﺑًﺎ ﻟَﻬَﺎ ﺃَﻭْ ﻣَﻔَﺎﺳِﺪِﻫَﺎ ﺍﺳْﺘِﺪْﻓَﺎﻋًﺎ ﻟَﻬَﺎ


“Indeed, it has been known through experience and normative understanding in the universe, from the beginning of the world until today, that the intellect is not independent in knowing that which is beneficial for it; so that it may acquire it, or [in knowing] that which is harmful for it; so that it may refrain from it”

[Imām al-Shāṭibī, ‘Al ‘Itiṣām Bi al-Kitāb wa’l- Sunnah’, (n.a: Maktabah al-Tawḥīd, n.a), pg.57, v.1]

Shāh Waliullah al-Muḥaddith al-Dehlawī Raḥimahullah (d.1176 AH) writes:

ﺍﻟﻨَّﺒِﻲُّ ﺻَﻠَّﻰ ﺍﻟﻠﻪُ ﻋَﻠَﻴْﻪِ ﻭَﺳَﻠَّﻢَ ﺃَﻭْﺛَﻖُ ﻋِﻨْﺪَﻧَﺎ ﻣِﻦْ ﻋُﻘُﻮْﻟِﻨَﺎ


“The Prophet Ṣallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wasallam is more reliable to us than our intellect”

[Shāh Waliullah al-Muḥaddith al-Dehlawī, ‘Hujjatullah al-Bāligah’, (Beirut: Dār al-Jīl, 2005), pg.30, v.1]

Of course, this is not to say that the human intellect and reason have no place in Sharī‘ah. It is possible for a person to recognise the existence and greatness of Allah the Almighty through his intellect and reason.

Scholars including the likes of Ibn Abī al-Dunyā Raḥimahullah (d.281 AH), Ibn Ḥibbān Raḥimahullah (d.354 AH), al-Ghazālī Raḥimahullah (d.505 AH), Ibn al-Jawzī Raḥimahullah (d.597 AH), Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī Raḥimahullah (d.606 AH), and Imām al-Shāṭibī Raḥimahullah (d.790 AH) have written on the incredible gift from Allah, that is, the human intellect and reason.

However, the human intellect has its limits, it cannot be used to supersede and override the indisputable commands of Allah and the authentic commands of His Messenger Ṣallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wasallam. Accordingly, our approach to the human intellect and reason should be balanced.
The Malikī scholar, Zayn al-Dīn Ibn al-Munayyir Raḥimahullah (d.695 AH) said:

ﻣَﻦْ ﺯَﻋَﻢَ ﺃَﻥَّ ﺍﻟْﺄَﺣْﻜَﺎﻡَ ﻛُﻠَّﻬَﺎ ﺗَﻌَﺒُّﺪِﻳَّﺔٌ ﻟَﺎ ﻣَﺠَﺎﻝَ ﻟِﻠْﻘِﻴَﺎﺱِ ﻓِﻴْﻬَﺎ ﺃَﻟْﺤَﻘَﻪُ ﺑِﺠُﺤُﻮْﺩِ ﺍﻟْﺠَﺒْﺮِﻳَّﺔِ ﻭَﻣَﻦْ ﺯَﻋَﻢَ ﺃَﻧَّﻬَﺎ ﻗِﻴَﺎﺳِﻴَّﺔٌ ﻣَﺤْﻀَﺔٌ ﺃَﻟْﺤَﻘَﻪُ ﺑِﺘَﻬَﻮُّﺭِ ﺍﻟْﻤُﻌْﺘَﺰِﻟَﺔِ ﻭَﺍﻟْﺤَﻖُّ ﻓِﻲ ﺍﻟﺘَّﻮَﺳُّﻂِ ” ﻭَﻛَﺎﻥَ ﺑَﻴْﻦَ ﺫَﻟِﻚَ ﻗَﻮَﺍﻣًﺎ”


“If one considers the rulings [of Sharī‘ah] to be entirely literal in which there is no scope for intellectual reasoning, then this shall lead him to the denial perpetrated by the al-Jabariyyah sect (a deviant sect), and if one considers them (the rulings of Sharī‘ah) to be completely [based upon] intellectual reason, then this shall lead him to the mistakes perpetrated by the al-Mu‘tazilah sect (a deviant sect), and the correct [approach] is a middle-path/moderation; [Allah the Almighty says], ‘And they are steadfast in the middle [path]’”

[‘Allāmah al-Zarkashī Raḥimahullah, ‘Al-Baḥr al-Muḥīṭ’, (Cairo: Wuzārah al-Awqāf, 1992), pg.27, v.5]

A balanced approach towards human intellect and reason in Sharī‘ah may be understood with a parable presented by a renowned scholar. Consider three individuals leaving their homes with the intention of climbing a steep mountain. Each of the three individuals possesses a horse. The first individual considers a horse a critical asset, thus he rides his horse from his home until he reaches the mountain, after reaching the mountain; he begins to climb the steep mountain while riding his horse, almost immediately, both the horse and the rider fall of the mountain. The second individual considers a horse a useless asset, accordingly, instead of riding the horse, he begins to walk from his home towards the mountain, however, when he reaches the mountain, he is too exhausted to climb the mountain. The third individual has a balanced approach towards the horse, he knows that while the horse has its capabilities, it also has its limitations, thus he rides the horse until he reaches the mountain, he then dismounts from the horse and begins to climb the mountain on foot. He succeeds in climbing the mountain.

The third individual succeeds in climbing the mountain because he used his horse at the correct juncture and left his horse at the correct juncture, while the first individual relied entirely upon his horse, such that he used his horse at an incorrect juncture, and the second individual did not valorize his horse at all.

We cannot reject the tenets of our religion and the authentic Aḥādīth if we ‘feel’ that they contradict our reasoning or intellect.

The irresolute/fickle morals, ethics, opinions, and beliefs of the modern society cannot be made a standard for the resolute and firm principles of Islām. The modern society considers correct today what it considered incorrect yesterday and it will consider correct tomorrow what it considers incorrect today. Similarly, the modern society considers absurd today what it considered comprehensible yesterday and it will consider comprehensible tomorrow what is considers absurd today.

Can I use my Intellect/Reason to reject Aḥādīth?

Recently, we have seen a wave of attacks hurled at the noble Aḥādīth of the Prophet Ṣallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wasallam. Individuals claiming to be championing a supposed ‘voice of reason’ have forced their intellect and reasoning onto the noble Prophetic narrations, thus rejecting narrations that supposedly contradict their intellect and reasoning.

Using the statements of Ibn al-Jawzī Raḥimahullah (d.597 AH) and others, these individuals are claiming that it is possible for every individual to reject Aḥādīth.
In explaining what is meant by the notion of when a text of Ḥadīth contradicts intellect, modernists and Islamic reformists take great pleasure in quoting the statement of Ibn al-Jawzī Raḥimahullah (d.597 AH):

ﻭَﻛُﻞُّ ﺣَﺪِﻳْﺚٍ ﺭَﺃَﻳْﺘَﻪُ ﻳُﺨَﺎﻟِﻒُ ﺍﻟْﻌُﻘُﻮْﻝَ ﺃَﻭْ ﻳُﻨَﺎﻗِﺾُ ﺍﻟْﺄُﺻُﻮْﻝَ ﻓَﺎﻋْﻠَﻢْ ﺃَﻧَّﻪُ ﻣَﻮْﺿُﻮْﻉٌ ﻓَﻠَﺎ ﺗَﺘَﻜَﻠَّﻒْ ﺍﻋْﺘِﺒَﺎﺭَﻩُ


“And every Ḥadīth that you see contradicting the intellect or breaking the principles [of Sharī‘ah], then know that it is fabricated, so do not exert yourself in considering it”

[Ibn al-Jawzī Raḥimahullah, ‘Al Mawḍū’āt Minal Aḥādīth Al Marfū’āt’, (Riyāḍ: Aḍwā Al Salaf, 1997), pg.151, v.1]

‘Allāmah Sakhāwī Raḥimahullah (d.904 AH) explains:

ﺍﻟﺮِّﻛَّﺔُ ﻓِﻲ ﺍﻟْﻤَﻌْﻨَﻰ ﻛَﺄَﻥْ ﻳَﻜُﻮْﻥَ ﻣُﺨَﺎﻟِﻔًﺎ ﻟِﻠْﻌَﻘْﻞِ ﺿَﺮُﻭْﺭَﺓً ﺃَﻭْ ﺍﺳْﺘِﺪْﻟَﺎﻟًﺎ ﻭَﻟَﺎ ﻳَﻘْﺒَﻞُ ﺍﻟﺘَّﺄْﻭِﻳْﻞَ ﺑِﺤَﺎﻝٍ ﻧَﺤْﻮَ ﺍﻟْﺈِﺧْﺒَﺎﺭِ ﻋَﻦِ ﺍﻟْﺠَﻤْﻊِ ﺑَﻴْﻦَ ﺍﻟﻀِّﺪَّﻳْﻦِ ﻭَﻋَﻦْ ﻧَﻔْﻲِ ﺍﻟﺼَّﺎﻧِﻊِ ﻭَﻗِﺪَﻡِ ﺍﻟْﺄَﺟْﺴَﺎﻡِ


“Feebleness in the meaning, such as it being contradictory to the intellect logically or calculatedly, and it does not accept reconciliation in any way, such as a narration that informs of two opposites coming together or it rejects a creator or it informs that the bodies are pre-eternal (all of which contradict the intellect)”

[‘Allāmah Sakhāwī Raḥimahullah, ‘Fatḥ al-Mugīth’, (Riyad: Dār al-Minhāj, 1436 AH), pg.128, v.2]

‘Allāmah Suyūṭī Raḥimahullah explains:

ﺃَﻥْ ﻳَﻜُﻮْﻥَ ﻣُﺨَﺎﻟِﻔًﺎ ﻟِﻠْﻌَﻘْﻞِ ﺑِﺤَﻴْﺚُ ﻟَﺎ ﻳَﻘْﺒَﻞُ ﺍﻟﺘَّﺄْﻭِﻳْﻞَ


“…that it contradicts the intellect in a manner that it cannot be reconciled

[‘Allāmah Jalāl al-Dīn al-Suyūṭī Raḥimahullah, ‘Tadrīb al-Rāwī’, (Riyāḍ: Dār al-Minhāj, 2016), pg.434, v.3] [Also see: al-Biqa‘ī Raḥimahullah, ‘al-Nukat al-Wafiyyah’, (Riyad: Maktabah al-Rushd), pg.578, v.1] [Also see: Ibn al-Mulaqqin, ‘Al-Muqni‘’, (Makah: Jami‘ah Ummul Qurā, 1403 AH), pg.114]

It is clear from the quotes above that when Ibn al-Jawzī Raḥimahullah (d.597 AH) mentioned that a Ḥadīth may be labeled as fabricated if it contradicts the intellect, he was not referring to Aḥādīth that contradict the understandings and morals of the fickle modern-day society, rather, he was referring to Aḥādīth that contradict basic logic. For example, if the words of a supposed Ḥadīth were to claim that Allah does not exist, or that 1 + 1 = 3, then this supposed Ḥadīth would be rejected.

[See: Shaykh Muḥammad ‘Awwāmah (may Allah preserve him), ‘Footnotes upon Tadrīb al-Rāwī’, (Riyāḍ: Dār al-Minhāj, 2016), pg.434, v.3] [Khalīl Mullā Khāṭir, ‘Al-Isabah Fī Ṣiḥhati Ḥadīth al-Dhubābah’, (Jeddah: Dār al-Qiblah, 1405 AH), pg.99]

This is supported by the fact that Ibn al-Jawzī Raḥimahullah (d.597 AH) mentions this statement after quoting a fabricated narration that claims that Allah the Almighty created Himself (this is logically impossible as the created cannot be a creator). Ibn al-Jawzī Raḥimahullah (d.597 AH) also precedes the above-mentioned statement with the words:

ﻟِﺄَﻥَّ ﺍﻟْﻤُﺴْﺘَﺤِﻴْﻞَ ﻟَﻮْ ﺻَﺪَﺭَ ﻋَﻦِ ﺍﻟﺜِّﻘَﺎﺕِ ﺭُﺩَّ


“…because if a logically impossible (Mustahil – such as a supposed narration claiming that Allah does not exist) statement were to be made by reliable narrators, it would be rejected”

[Ibn al-Jawzī Raḥimahullah, ‘Al Mawḍū’āt Minal Aḥādīth Al Marfū’āt’, (Riyāḍ: Aḍwā Al Salaf, 1997), pg.150, v.1]

As for when a Ḥadīth heralds a meaning of miracles or other concepts that the intellect cannot comprehend or fathom, then such a Ḥadīth cannot be impetuously rejected.

It is for this reason that a leading scholar of Ḥadīth of our time, Shaykh Muḥammad ‘Awwāmah, may Allah preserve him, explains:

ﺍﻟْﻌَﻘْﻞُ ﺍﻟﺴَّﻠِﻴْﻢُ ﺍﻟﺸَّﺮْﻋِﻲُ ﺍﻟْﺨَﺎﻟِﻲْ ﻣِﻦْ ﺷَﻮَﺍﺋِﺐِ ﺍﻟْﻬَﻮَﻯ ﻭَﺍﻟْﺈِﻧْﺤِﺮَﺍﻑِ ﻭﻟﻮﺛﺎﺕ ﺍﻟﺜﻘﺎﻓﺔ ﺍﻟﻤﻌﺎﺻﺮﺓ ﻭﺍﻟﻤﺎﺩﻳﺔ ﺍﻟﻤﻠﺤﺪﺓ ﻭَﺇِﻟَّﺎ ﻛَﺎﻥَ ﺍﻟﺪِّﻳْﻦُ ﺃُﻟْﻌُﻮْﺑَﺔً ﻟِﻜُﻞِّ ﺫِﻱْ ﻫَﻮًﻯ ﻭَﺿَﻠَﺎﻟَﺔٍ ﺗَﺤْﺖَ ﺷِﻌَﺎﺭِ ﺍﻟﺘَّﻤَﺴُّﻚِ ﺑِﻤِﺜْﻞِ ﻫَﺬِﻩِ ﺍﻟﻨُّﺼُﻮْﺹِ ﻭَﻧَﺤْﻦُ ﻧَﻌِﻴْﺶُ ﻫَﺬِﻩِ ﺍﻟْﻤَﻔَﺎﻫِﻴْﻢَ ﺍﻟْﺂﻥَ !!


“The type of intellect (that is considered in assessing a Ḥadīth) is one that is sound, bound by Sharī‘ah, and free from the clamours of desire and heresy and the contamination of the modern society and the atheistic environment, otherwise, the Dīn would become a play for every deviant and misguided person under [the pretense] of holding firm to such statements (that mention that intellect plays a role in Ḥadīth), and we are now living in the time of such thoughts!”

[Shaykh Muḥammad ‘Awwāmah (may Allah preserve him), ‘Footnotes upon Tadrīb al-Rāwī’, (Riyad: Dār al-Minhāj, 2016), pg.559, v.2]

To reiterate, the irresolute/fickle morals, ethics, opinions, and beliefs of the modern society cannot be made a standard for the resolute and firm principles of Islām. The modern society considers correct today what it considered incorrect yesterday and it will consider correct tomorrow what it considers incorrect today. Similarly, the modern society considers absurd today what it considered comprehensible yesterday and it will consider comprehensible tomorrow what is considers absurd today.

Can a narration be labeled as a fabrication if I feel that it contradicts the principles and objectives of Sharī‘ah?

We have acquired our Aḥādīth through chains of narrations. These chains of narrations were rigorously scrutinized by the Ḥadīth scholars of the past who analysed the intricate details of a chain of narration in order to deduce whether a narration is sound, apocryphal, or fabricated. At times, masterful Ḥadīth scholars of the past scrutinised a narration based upon the fact that the text of the narration contradicts a fundamental and bonafide principle of Sharī‘ah. However, this was a delicate task, undertaken by a privileged few, as performing this daunting task required one to have profound knowledge of Sharī‘ah and an incredible grasp on Ḥadīth. It was in no way permitted for the laity.

Islamic reformists have made an attempt to allow the layman to also engage in criticism of a narration based upon whether its text is in conformity with the principles and objectives of Sharī‘ah or not. This is despite the fact that a layman does not even have basic knowledge of Sharī‘ah, never mind the delicate and complex knowledge required to make such precarious decisions.

Modernists and Islāmic reformists take great pleasure in quoting statements of scholars such as Ibn al-Jawzī Raḥimahullah (d.597 AH), Al-Ḥāfiẓ Al Ya‘murī Raḥimahullah (d.734 AH); et al. who have mentioned that if a narration contradicts the principles and objectives of Islām, then it may be rejected even if the chain of narration is sound.

However, what they fail to realize is that the early scholars who ruled certain Aḥādīth to be fabricated based upon the text of the Ḥadīth contradicting the principles and objectives of Sharī‘ah did so through
profound knowledge of Sharī‘ah and an incredible grasp on Ḥadīth.

If an individual wishes to assess whether a coin is genuine or counterfeit, he ensures to take it to a specialist, within seconds the specialist would be able to determine whether or not the coin is genuine due to his profound knowledge of coins. In the same manner, beyond their meticulous examination of the chains of narration, some of the early scholars of Ḥadīth were
gifted with an ability to deduce whether a narration is authentic by looking at the text of the narration due to their profound knowledge of Sharī‘ah and an incredible grasp on Ḥadīth . Profound knowledge of Sharī‘ah in this context means that the knowledge of Sharī‘ah and the sciences of Ḥadīth were embedded and ingrained within them such that they could at will recite hundreds of thousands of Aḥādīth with their chains of narration from memory.

We shall soon demonstrate this with examples from the lives of some of these scholars of Ḥadīth.

When Ibn Al-Jawzī Raḥimahullah (d.597 AH) said:

ﻭَﺍﻋْﻠَﻢْ ﺃَﻥَّ ﺍﻟْﺤَﺪِﻳْﺚَ ﺍﻟْﻤُﻨَﻜَﺮَ ﻳَﻘْﺸَﻌِﺮُّ ﻟَﻪُ ﺟِﻠْﺪُ ﺍﻟﻄَّﺎﻟِﺐِ ﻟِﻠْﻌِﻠْﻢِ ﻭَﻳَﻨْﻔَﺮُّ ﻣِﻨْﻪُ ﻗَﻠْﺒُﻪُ ﻓِﻲ ﺍﻟْﻐَﺎﻟِﺐِ


“And know! That a rejected Ḥadīth, the skin of a seeker of noble knowledge trembles from it, and, in most cases, his heart turns away from it”

[Ibn Al-Jawzī Raḥimahullah, ‘Al-Mawḍū’āt Min al-Aḥādīth al-Marfū’āt’, (Riyāḍ: Aḍwā Al Salaf, 1997), pg.146, v.1]

The scholars of the sciences of Ḥadīth stepped in to explain that this is definitely not for everyone. Thus, Imām Al-Biqā’ī Raḥimahullah (d.885 AH) relates in his Al-Nukat al-Wafiyyah , the majority of which is taken from Ḥafiẓ Ibn Ḥajar Raḥimahullah (d.882 AH)’s lectures delivered on Al-Tabṣirah wa’l-Tadhkirah , with regards to the statement of Ibn Al-Jawzī Raḥimahullah (d.597 AH) recorded above:

ﺍﻟﻄَّﺎﻟِﺐُ ﻟِﻠْﻌِﻠْﻢِ ﺃَﻱْ ﺍﻟْﻜَﺜِﻴْﺮُ ﺍﻟْﻤُﺨَﺎﻟَﻄَﺔِ ﻟِﺄﻧْﻔَﺎﺱِ ﺍﻟﺮَّﺳُﻮْﻝِ ﺻَﻠَّﻰ ﺍﻟﻠﻪُ ﻋَﻠَﻴْﻪِ ﻭَﺳَﻠَّﻢَ ﺍﻟْﻤُﺘَﻤَﻜِّﻦُ ﻣِﻦَ ﺍﻟﺴَّﻨَﺪِ ﺍﻟﺸَّﺪِﻳْﺪُ ﺍﻟْﻤُﻤَﺎﺭَﺳَﺔِ ﻟِﻠﺸَّﺮِﻳْﻌَﺔِ ﺍﻟْﻌَﺎﺭِﻑُ ﺑِﺎﻟْﻤَﻘْﺒُﻮْﻝِ ﻣِﻦَ ﺍﻟْﻤَﺮْﺩُﻭْﺩِ ﻟَﺎ ﻛُﻞُّ ﻃَﺎﻟِﺐٍ


“‘Seeker of noble knowledge’ – i.e. [Ibn Al-Jawzi is referring to] one who has perpetually engrossed himself with the breaths (Aḥādīth) of the Prophet Ṣallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wasallam, and he is an expert in the chains of narration, and he has extraordinary mastery with the principles of Sharī‘ah, and he is able to distinguish accepted from unaccepted, not every seeker [of noble knowledge]

[Al-Biqā’ī Raḥimahullah, ‘Al-Nukat al-Wafiyyah’, (Riyad: Maktabah al-Rushd, 2007), pg.578 v.1] [Shaykh Aḥmad Ma‘bad ‘Abd al-Karīm, ‘Al-Ḥāfiẓ al-‘Irāqī wa-Atharuhu Fil Sunnah’, (Riyad: Aḍwā al-Salaf, 2004), pg.1999 v.5]

Effectively, Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Ḥajar Raḥimahullah (d.882 AH) ruled out the possibility for those who do not have profound knowledge of Sharī‘ah to use Ibn al-Jawzī Raḥimahullah (d.597 AH)’s statement as a conduit to reject Aḥādīth. We shall soon explain what we mean by profound knowledge of Sharī‘ah in this context.

‘Allāmah Sakhāwī Raḥimahullah (d.904 AH) explains the statement of Ibn al-Jawzī Raḥimahullah (d.597 AH) as follows:

ﻭَﻋَﻨَﻰ ﺑِﺬَﻟِﻚَ ﺍﻟْﻤُﻤَﺎﺭِﺱَ ﻟِﺄَﻟْﻔَﺎﻅِ ﺍﻟﺸَّﺮْﻉِ ﺍﻟْﺨَﺒِﻴْﺮَ ﺑِﻬَﺎ ﻭَﺑِﺮَﻭْﻧَﻘِﻬَﺎ ﻭَﺑَﻬْﺠَﺘِﻬَﺎ


“And he (Ibn al-Jawzī) intends by this (a seeker of sacred knowledge): one who is perpetually engrossed in the texts of Sharī‘ah, and he has profound knowledge of them (the texts of Sharī‘ah) and their essence and objectives”

[‘Allāmah Sakhāwī Raḥimahullah, ‘Fatḥ al-Mugīth’, (Riyad: Dār al-Minhāj, 1436 AH), pg.128, v.2]

Ibn al-‘Ajamī Raḥimahullah (d.1086 AH) comments under the statement of Ibn al-Jawzī Raḥimahullah (d.597 AH):

ﻃَﺎﻟِﺐُ ﺍﻟْﻌِﻠْﻢِ : ﺍﻟْﻤُﻤَﺎﺭِﺱُ ﻟِﺄَﻟْﻔَﺎﻅِ ﺍﻟﺸَّﺮْﻉِ ﺣَﺘَّﻰ ﻳَﺤْﺼُﻞَ ﻣَﻠَﻜَﺔً ﻗَﻮِﻳَّﺔً ﻭَﻫِﻤَّﺔً ﺭَﺍﺳِﺨَﺔً ﻳُﻔَﺮِّﻕُ ﺑِﻬَﺎ ﺑَﻴْﻦَ ﺍﻟْﻤَﻮْﺿُﻮْﻉِ ﻭَﻏَﻴْﺮِﻩِ


“Seeker of knowledge: i.e. one who is perpetually engrossed in the texts of Sharī‘ah such that he has achieved an incredible ability and firm prowess such that he may distinguish with it between fabricated and non-fabricated”

[Ibn al-‘Ajamī, Footnotes upon Tadrīb al-Rāwī, (Riyad: Dār al-Minhāj, 2016), pg.432, v.3]

After establishing that criticism of a narration based upon the text of the narration was reserved for those who had deeply profound knowledge of Sharī‘ah and an incredible grasp on Ḥadīth, let us demonstrate what denotes profound knowledge of Sharī‘ah and an incredible grasp of Ḥadīth through the lives of the scholars who heralded this quality.

The Benchmark for Profound knowledge of Sharī‘ah and an incredible grasp on Ḥadīth through the lives of the scholars of the past

Imām Al-Layth Ibn Sa’d Raḥimahullah (d.175 AH)

ﻗِﻴْﻞَ ﻟِﻠَّﻠﻴْﺚِ ﺃَﻣْﺘَﻊَ ﺍﻟﻠﻪُ ﺑِﻚَ ﺇِﻧَّﺎ ﻧَﺴْﻤَﻊُ ﻣِﻨْﻚَ ﺍﻟْﺤَﺪِﻳْﺚَ ﻟَﻴْﺲَ ﻓِﻲْ ﻛُﺘُﺒِﻚَ ﻓَﻘَﺎﻝَ ﺃَﻭَﻛُﻞُّ ﻣَﺎ ﻓِﻲْ ﺻَﺪْﺭِﻱْ ﻓِﻲْ ﻛُﺘُﺒِﻲْ؟ ﻟَﻮْ ﻛَﺘَﺒْﺖُ ﻣَﺎ ﻓِﻲْ ﺻَﺪْﺭِﻱْ ﻣَﺎ ﻭَﺳِﻌَﻪُ ﻫَﺬَﺍ ﺍﻟْﻤَﺮْﻛَﺐُ


“It was said to Layth ibn Sa’d, ‘May Allah reward you, indeed we hear from you Aḥādīth that are not in your books’, so he responded, ‘Is everything that is in my heart in my books? If I were to write everything that is in my memory, then it would not fit inside this ship’”

[Ḥāfiẓ Al Dhahabī Raḥimahullah, ‘Siyar A’lām al-Nubalā’, (Beirut: Mu’assasah Al Risālah, 1985), pg.153 v.8]

Imām Yaḥyā ibn Ma‘īn Raḥimahullah (233 AH)
Muḥammad ibn Naṣr al-Ṭabarī Raḥimahullah said:

ﺩَﺧَﻠْﺖُ ﻋَﻠَﻰ ﻳَﺤْﻴَﻰ ﺑْﻦِ ﻣَﻌِﻴْﻦ ﻓَﻮَﺟَﺪْﺕُ ﻋِﻨْﺪَﻩُ ﻛَﺬَﺍ ﻭَﻛَﺬَﺍ ﺳِﻔْﻄًﺎ ﻳَﻌْﻨِﻲْ ﺩَﻓَﺎﺗِﺮًﺍ ﻭَﺳَﻤِﻌْﺘُﻪُ ﻳَﻘُﻮْﻝُ ﻗَﺪْ ﻛَﺘَﺒْﺖُ ﺑِﻴَﺪَﻱَّ ﺃَﻟْﻒَ ﺃَﻟْﻒِ ﺣَﺪِﻳْﺚٍ


“I visited Yaḥyā ibn Ma’īn and found by him such and such amounts of parchments, i.e. books, and I heard him say, ‘Indeed, I have written with these two hands of mine, a million narrations”

[Ḥāfiẓ al-Mizzī Raḥimahullah, ‘Taḥdhīb al-Kamāl’, (Beirut: Mu’assasah al-Risālah, 1992), pg.548, v.31]

Imām Isḥāq Ibn Rāhwayh Raḥimahullah (d.238 AH)
Abū Dāwūd al-Khaffāf Raḥimahullah said:

ﺳَﻤِﻌْﺖُ ﺇِﺳْﺤَﺎﻕَ ﺑْﻦَ ﺭَﺍﻫْﻮِﻳْﻪ ﻳَﻘُﻮْﻝُ ﻟَﻜَﺄَﻧِّﻲْ ﺃَﻧْﻈُﺮُ ﺇِﻟَﻰ ﻣِﺌَﺔِ ﺃَﻟْﻒِ ﺣَﺪِﻳْﺚٍ ﻓِﻲْ ﻛُﺘُﺒِﻲْ ﻭَﺛَﻠَﺎﺛِﻴْﻦَ ﺃَﻟْﻔًﺎ ﺃَﺳْﺮُﺩُﻫَﺎ


“I heard Isḥāq ibn Rāhwayh say, ‘Indeed, it is as though I am looking at 100,000 narrations in my books and 30,000 [narrations] I am able to recite”

Al-Khaffāf then states:

ﻭَﺃَﻣْﻠَﻰ ﻋَﻠَﻴْﻨَﺎ ﺇِﺳْﺤَﺎﻕَ ﺃَﺣَﺪَ ﻋَﺸَﺮَ ﺃَﻟْﻒِ ﺣَﺪِﻳْﺚٍ ﻣِﻦْ ﺣِﻔْﻈِﻪِ ﺛُﻢَّ ﻗَﺮَﺃَﻫَﺎ ﻋَﻠَﻴْﻨَﺎ ﻓَﻤَﺎ ﺯَﺍﺩَ ﺣَﺮْﻓًﺎ ﻭَﻟَﺎ ﻧَﻘْﺺَ ﺣَﺮْﻓًﺎ


“Isḥāq dictated 11,000 narrations to us from his memory, he then read them out to us [again] without adding or removing a single letter”

Abū Yazīd Muḥammad ibn Yaḥyā ibn Khālid Raḥimahullah said:

ﺳَﻤِﻌْﺖُ ﺇِﺳْﺤَﺎﻕَ ﺑْﻦَ ﺇِﺑْﺮَﺍﻫِﻴْﻢَ ﺍﻟْﺤَﻨْﻈَﻠِﻲَّ ﻳَﻘُﻮْﻝُ ﻓِﻲْ ﺳَﻨَﺔِ ﺛَﻤَﺎﻥِ ﻭَّﺛَﻠَﺎﺛِﻴْﻦَ ﻭَﻣِﺎﺋَﺘَﻴْﻦِ ” ﺃَﻋْﺮِﻑُ ﻣَﻜَﺎﻥَ ﻣِﺎﺋَﺔِ ﺃَﻟْﻒِ ﺣَﺪِﻳْﺚٍ ﻛَﺄَﻧِّﻲْ ﺃَﻧْﻈُﺮُ ﺇِﻟَﻴْﻬَﺎ ﻭَﺃَﺣْﻔَﻆُ ﻣِﻨْﻬَﺎ ﺳَﺒْﻌِﻴْﻦَ ﺃَﻟْﻒِ ﺣَﺪِﻳْﺚٍ ﻣِﻦْ ﻇَﻬْﺮِ ﻗَﻠْﺒِﻲْ ﺻَﺤِﻴْﺤَﺔٍ ﻭَﺃَﺣْﻔَﻆُ ﺃَﺭْﺑَﻌَﺔَ ﺁﻟَﺎﻑِ ﺣَﺪِﻳْﺚٍ ﻣُﺰَﻭَّﺭَﺓٍ ﻓَﻘِﻴْﻞَ ﻣَﺎ ﻣَﻌْﻨَﻰ ﺣِﻔْﻆِ ﺍﻟْﻤُﺰَﻭَّﺭَﺓِ؟ ﻗَﺎﻝَ ﺇِﺫَﺍ ﻣَﺮَّ ﺑِﻲْ ﻣِﻨْﻬَﺎ ﺣَﺪِﻳْﺚٌ ﻓِﻲ ﺍﻟْﺄَﺣَﺎﺩِﻳْﺚِ ﺍﻟﺼَّﺤِﻴْﺤَﺔِ ﻓَﻠَﻴْﺘُﻪُ ﻣِﻨْﻬَﺎ ﻓَﻠْﻴًﺎ


“I heard Isḥāq ibn Ibrāhīm al-Hanẓalī (Isḥāq ibn Rāhwayh) say in the year 238 AH, ‘I know the locations of 100,000 narrations (this number includes Aḥādīth with different chains of narration as well as the statements of the Ṣaḥābah) as though I am looking at them, and I have memorized 70,000 narrations from them that are authentic and they are in the crevices of my heart, and I know 4000 fabricated narrations’, it was asked of him, ‘What do you mean by memorising fabricated narrations?’ He replied, ‘When I come across a [fabricated] narration from [my tomes of] authentic narrations, then I swiftly remove it”

[Al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī Raḥimahullah, ‘Al-Jāmi‘ Li Akhlāq al-Rāwī wa-Ādāb al-Sāmi‘’, (Beirut: Dār al-Garb al-Islāmī, 2001), pg.381, v.2]

Imām Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal Raḥimahullah (d.242 AH)

A contemporary of Imām Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal (d.242 AH), Abū Zur’ah al-Rāzī Raḥimahullah:

ﻛَﺎﻥَ ﺍﺑْﻦُ ﺣَﻨْﺒَﻞَ ﻳَﺤْﻔَﻆُ ﺃَﻟْﻒَ ﺃَﻟْﻒِ ﺣَﺪِﻳْﺚٍ


“[Aḥmad] ibn Ḥanbal had memorized a million narrations (this number includes Aḥādīth with different chains of narration and the statements of the Ṣaḥābah)”

[Ḥāfiẓ Al Dhahabī Raḥimahullah, ‘Siyar A’lām al-Nubalā’, (Beirut: Mu’assasah al-Risālah, 1985), pg.187 v.11] [Ibn al-Jawzī, Manāqib al-Imām Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal’, (Giza: Dār Hijr, n.a), pg.73]

Imām al-Bukhārī Raḥimahullah (d.256 AH)

Muḥammad ibn Khamīrwayh Raḥimahullah said:

ﺳَﻤِﻌْﺖُ ﻣُﺤَﻤَّﺪَ ﺑْﻦَ ﺇِﺳْﻤَﺎﻋِﻴْﻞَ ﻳَﻘُﻮْﻝُ ” ﺃَﺣْﻔَﻆُ ﻣِﺎﺋَﺔَ ﺃَﻟْﻒِ ﺣَﺪِﻳْﺚٍ ﺻَﺤِﻴْﺢٍ ﻭَﺃَﺣْﻔَﻆُ ﻣِﺎﺋَﺘَﻲْ ﺃَﻟْﻒِ ﺣَﺪِﻳْﺚٍ ﻏَﻴْﺮِ ﺻَﺤِﻴْﺢٍ


I heard Muḥammad ibn Ismā’īl say, ‘I have memorized 100,000 authentic narrations (this number includes Aḥādīth with different chains of narration and the statements of the Ṣaḥābah), and I have memorized 200,000 inauthentic narrations’”

[Ḥāfiẓ Al Dhahabī Raḥimahullah, ‘Siyar A’lām al-Nubalā’, (Beirut: Mu’assasah al-Risālah, 1985), pg.415 v.12]

‘Alī ibn al-Ḥusayn ibn ‘Asim al-Baykandī Raḥimahullah states:

ﻗَﺪِﻡَ ﻋَﻠَﻴْﻨَﺎ ﻣُﺤَﻤَّﺪُ ﺑْﻦُ ﺇِﺳْﻤَﺎﻋِﻴْﻞَ ﻗَﺎﻝَ ﻓَﺎﺟْﺘَﻤَﻌْﻨَﺎ ﻋِﻨْﺪَﻩُ ﻓَﻘَﺎﻝَ ﺑَﻌْﻀُﻨَﺎ ﺳَﻤِﻌْﺖُ ﺇِﺳْﺤَﺎﻕَ ﺑْﻦَ ﺭَﺍﻫْﻮِﻳْﻪ ﻳَﻘُﻮْﻝُ ﻛَﺄَﻧِّﻲْ ﺃَﻧْﻈُﺮُ ﺇِﻟَﻰ ﺳَﺒْﻌِﻴْﻦَ ﺃَﻟْﻒِ ﺣَﺪِﻳْﺚٍ ﻣِﻦْ ﻛِﺘَﺎﺑِﻲْ ﻓَﻘَﺎﻝَ ﻣُﺤَﻤَّﺪُ ﺑْﻦُ ﺇِﺳْﻤَﺎﻋِﻴْﻞَ ﺃَﻭْ ﺗَﻌْﺠَﺐُ ﻣِﻦْ ﻫَﺬَﺍ؟ ! ﻟَﻌَﻞَّ ﻓِﻲْ ﻫَﺬَﺍ ﺍﻟﺰَّﻣَﺎﻥِ ﻣَﻦْ ﻳَﻨْﻈُﺮُ ﺇِﻟَﻰ ﻣِﺎﺋَﺘَﻲْ ﺃَﻟْﻒِ ﺣَﺪِﻳْﺚٍ ﻣِﻦْ ﻛِﺘَﺎﺑِﻪِ ﻭَﺇِﻧَّﻤَﺎ ﻋَﻨَﻰ ﺑِﻪِ ﻧَﻔْﺴَﻪُ


“Muḥammad ibn Ismā‘īl came to us, so we gathered by him, then some of us said, ‘I heard Isḥāq ibn Rāhwayh say, “It is as though I am looking at 70,000 narrations from my books”’, so Muḥammad ibn Ismā‘īl said, ‘Are you amazed by this?! It is possible that there is someone in this age who is looking at 200,000 narrations in his book’ – referring to himself”

[Ḥāfiẓ Al Dhahabī Raḥimahullah, ‘Siyar A’lām al-Nubalā’, (Beirut: Mu’assasah al-Risālah, 1985), pg.416 v.12]

Imām Muslim ibn Ḥajjāj Raḥimahullah (d.261 AH)

Al-Husayn ibn Muḥammad al-Māsarjisī states:

ﺳَﻤِﻌْﺖُ ﻣُﺴْﻠِﻤًﺎ ﻳَﻘُﻮْﻝُ ﺻَﻨَّﻔْﺖُ ﻫَﺬَﺍ ” ﺍﻟْﻤُﺴْﻨَﺪَ ﺍﻟﺼَّﺤِﻴْﺢَ ” ﻣِﻦْ ﺛَﻠَﺎﺙِ ﻣِﺎﺋَﺔِ ﺃَﻟْﻒِ ﺣَﺪِﻳْﺚٍ ﻣَﺴْﻤُﻮْﻋَﺔٍ


“I heard Muslim [ibn al-Ḥajjāj] say, ‘I wrote this ‘al-Musnad al-Ṣaḥīḥ’ from 300,000 narrations [that I have] heard’”

[Ḥāfiẓ Al Dhahabī Raḥimahullah, ‘Siyar A‘lām al-Nubalā’, (Beirut: Mu’assasah al-Risālah, 1985), pg.565 v.12]

Imām Abū Zur‘ah al-Rāzī Raḥimahullah (d.264 AH)

Abū ‘Abdillah ibn Mandah relates from Abul ‘Abbas Muḥammad ibn Ja‘far ibn Ḥamkawayh that he said:

ﺳُﺌِﻞَ ﺃَﺑُﻮْ ﺯُﺭْﻋَﺔَ ﻋَﻦْ ﺭَﺟُﻞٍ ﺣَﻠَﻒَ ﺑِﺎﻟﻄَّﻠَﺎﻕِ ﺃَﻥَّ ﺃَﺑَﺎ ﺯُﺭْﻋَﺔَ ﻳَﺤْﻔَﻆُ ﻣِﺎﺋَﺘَﻲْ ﺃَﻟْﻒِ ﺣَﺪِﻳْﺚٍ ﻫَﻞْ ﺣَﻨَﺚَ؟ ﻓَﻘَﺎﻝَ ﻟَﺎ ﺛُﻢَّ ﻗَﺎﻝَ ﺃَﺑُﻮْ ﺯُﺭْﻋَﺔَ ﺃَﺣْﻔَﻆُ ﻣِﺎﺋَﺘَﻲْ ﺃَﻟْﻒِ ﺣَﺪِﻳْﺚٍ ﻛَﻤَﺎ ﻳَﺤْﻔَﻆُ ﺍﻟْﺈِﻧْﺴَﺎﻥُ ” ﻗُﻞْ ﻫُﻮَ ﺍﻟﻠﻪُ ﺃَﺣَﺪٌ ”


“Abū Zur‘ah was asked about a man who has taken an oath that his wife shall be divorced if it is untrue that Abū Zur‘ah has memorized 200,000 narrations, that will his divorce take place? So he replied, ‘I have memorized 200,000 narrations like how a person has memorized Qul Huwallahu Aḥad (Surah Ikhlās)”

[Ḥāfiẓ Al Dhahabī Raḥimahullah, ‘Siyar A‘lām al-Nubalā’, (Beirut: Mu’assasah al-Risālah, 1985), pg.68 v.13] [See: ‘Allamah Tāj al-Subkī, ‘Ṭabqāt al-Shāf‘iyyah’, (Beirut: Dar al-Fikr, n.a), pg.65, v.1]

Imām Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal Raḥimahullah (d.241 AH) said:

ﺻَﺢَّ ﻣِﻦَ ﺍﻟْﺤَﺪِﻳْﺚِ ﺳَﺒْﻊُ ﻣِﺎﺋَﺔِ ﺃَﻟْﻒِ ﺣَﺪِﻳْﺚٍ ﻭَﻛَﺴْﺮٌ ﻭَﻫَﺬَﺍ ﺍﻟْﻔَﺘَﻰ ﻳَﻌْﻨِﻲْ ﺃَﺑَﺎ ﺯُﺭْﻋَﺔَ ﻗَﺪْ ﺣَﻔِﻆَ ﺳِﺖَّ ﻣِﺎﺋَﺔِ ﺃَﻟْﻒٍ


“700,000 Aḥādīth (this number includes Aḥādīth with different chains of narration as well as the statements of the Ṣaḥābah) and a little more from the Aḥādīth are authentic, and this youngster (Abū Zur‘ah) has memorized 600,000 Aḥādīth”

[Al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī Raḥimahullah, ‘Tārīkh Baghdād’, (Beirut: Dār al-Garb al-Islāmī, 2001), pg.41, v.12]

Imām Abū Dāwūd Raḥimahullah (d.275 AH)

Al-Fallās Raḥimahullah states:

ﺳَﻤِﻌْﺖُ ﺃَﺑَﺎ ﺩَﺍﻭُﺩَ ﻳَﻘُﻮْﻝُ ﺃَﺳْﺮُﺩُ ﺛَﻠَﺎﺛِﻴْﻦَ ﺃَﻟْﻒِ ﺣَﺪِﻳْﺚٍ ﻭَﻟَﺎ ﻓَﺨْﺮَ ﻭَﻓِﻲْ ﺻَﺪْﺭِﻱْ ﺍﺛْﻨَﺎ ﻋَﺸَﺮَ ﺃَﻟْﻔًﺎ ﻟِﻌُﺜْﻤَﺎﻥَ ﺍﻟْﺒَﺮِّﻱْ ﻣَﺎ ﺳَﺄَﻟَﻨِﻲْ ﻋَﻨْﻬَﺎ ﺃَﺣَﺪٌ ﻣِﻦْ ﺃَﻫْﻞِ ﺍﻟْﺒَﺼْﺮَﺓِ ﻓَﺨَﺮَﺟْﺖُ ﺇِﻟَﻰ ﺃَﺻْﺒَﻬَﺎﻥَ ﻓَﺒَﺜَﺜْﺘُﻬَﺎ ﻓِﻴْﻬِﻢْ


“I heard Abū Dāwūd say, ‘I [can] recite 30,000 narrations and there is no arrogance [in this] and in my heart there are 12,000 narrations of ‘Uthmān Al Birrī that none from the people of Baṣrah have asked me about, so I went to Aṣbahān and I narrated these narrations to them”

[Ḥāfiẓ Al Dhahabī Raḥimahullah, ‘Siyar A‘lām al-Nubalā’, (Beirut: Mu’assasah al-Risālah, 1985), pg.383 v.9]

Abū Bakr ibn Dāsah Raḥimahullah states that he heard Abū Dāwūd Raḥimahullah (d.275 AH) say:

ﻛَﺘَﺒْﺖُ ﻋَﻦْ ﺭَﺳُﻮْﻝِ ﺍﻟﻠﻪِ ﺻَﻠَّﻰ ﺍﻟﻠﻪُ ﻋَﻠَﻴْﻪِ ﻭَﺳَﻠَّﻢَ ﺧَﻤْﺲَ ﻣِﺎﺋَﺔِ ﺃَﻟْﻒِ ﺣَﺪِﻳْﺚٍ ﺍﻧْﺘَﺨَﺒْﺖُ ﻣِﻨْﻬَﺎ ﻣَﺎ ﺿَﻤَﻨْﺘُﻪُ ﻫَﺬَﺍ ﺍﻟْﻜِﺘَﺎﺏِ ﻳَﻌْﻨِﻲْ ﻛِﺘَﺎﺏَ ” ﺍﻟﺴُّﻨَﻦِ”


“I have written 500,000 narrations of the Prophet Ṣallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wasallam, and I extracted from them that which I have placed in this book, i.e. the Sunan”

[Al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī Raḥimahullah, ‘Tārikh Baghdād’, (Beirut: Dār al-Gharb al-Islāmī, 2001), pg.78, v.10]

Abū ‘Imrān Aḥmad ibn Naṣr al-Khaffāf (d.299 AH)

Al-Ḥākim Raḥimahullah said:

ﺳَﻤِﻌْﺖُ ﺍﻟﺼَّﺒْﻐِﻲُّ ﻏَﻴْﺮَ ﻣَﺮَّﺓٍ ﻳَﻘُﻮْﻝُ ﻛُﻨَّﺎ ﻧَﻘُﻮْﻝُ ﺇِﻥَّ ﺃَﺑَﺎ ﻋِﻤْﺮَﺍﻥَ ﻳَﻔِﻲْ ﺑِﻤُﺬَﺍﻛَﺮَﺓِ ﻣِﺌَﺔِ ﺃَﻟْﻒِ ﺣَﺪِﻳْﺚٍ


“I heard Al-Ṣabghī say more than once, ‘We used to say that Abū ‘Imrān can recite 100,000 narrations’”

[Ḥāfiẓ Al Dhahabī Raḥimahullah, ‘Siyar A‘lām al-Nubalā’, (Beirut: Mu’assasah al-Risālah, 1985), pg.561 v.13]

Abū Muḥammad ‘Abdān (d.306 AH)

Abū ‘Alī al-Ḥāfiẓ Raḥimahullah said:
ﻓَﺄَﻣَّﺎ ﻋَﺒْﺪَﺍﻥُ ﻓَﻜَﺎﻥَ ﻳَﺤْﻔَﻆُ ﻣِﺌَﺔَ ﺃَﻟْﻒِ ﺣَﺪِﻳْﺚٍ


“As for ‘Abdan, he had memorized 100,000 narrations (this number includes Aḥādīth with different chains of narration and the statements of the Ṣaḥābah)”

[Ḥāfiẓ Al Dhahabī Raḥimahullah, ‘Siyar A‘lām al-Nubalā’, (Beirut: Mu’assasah al-Risālah, 1985), pg.169 v.14]

Imām Ali ibn Umar al-Daruqutnī Raḥimahullah (d.385 AH)

Abū Bakr al-Birqānī Raḥimahullah states:

ﻛَﺎﻥَ ﺍﻟﺪَّﺍﺭِﻗُﻄْﻨِﻲُّ ﻳُﻤْﻠِﻲْ ﻋَﻠَﻲَّ ﺍﻟْﻌِﻠَﻞَ ﻣِﻦْ ﺣِﻔْﻈِﻪِ


“Al Daruqutnī dictated ‘Al ‘Ilal’ to me from his memory”

[Ḥāfiẓ Al Dhahabī Raḥimahullah, ‘Siyar A‘lām al-Nubalā’, (Beirut: Mu’assasah al-Risālah, 1985), pg.454 v.16]

The book ‘Al ‘Ilal’ contains well over 15,000 narrations.

A corollary principle understood from the above examples is that it is not possible to issue a ruling upon a narration simply based upon the basis that its text contradicts the principles and objectives of Sharī‘ah until one has memorized equivalent to that which the scholars mentioned above had memorized; this would be a minimum of 100,000 Aḥādīth with their chains of narration. Only then could one claim that he has the right to deduce whether a narration is fabricated simply by looking at the text of the narration.

Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Daqīq al-‘Ῑd Raḥimahullah (d.702 AH) writes:

ﻭَﻛَﺜِﻴْﺮًﺍ ﻣَّﺎ ﻳَﺤْﻜُﻤُﻮْﻥَ ﺑِﺬَﻟِﻚَ – ﺃَﻱْ ﺑِﺎﻟْﻮَﺿْﻊِ – ﺑِﺎِﻋْﺘِﺒَﺎﺭِ ﺃُﻣُﻮْﺭٍ ﺗَﺮْﺟِﻊُ ﺇِﻟَﻰ ﺍﻟْﻤَﺮْﻭِﻱِّ ﻭَﺃَﻟْﻔَﺎﻅِ ﺍﻟْﺤَﺪِﻳْﺚِ ﻭَﺣَﺎﺻِﻠُﻪُ ﻳَﺮْﺟِﻊُ ﺇِﻟَﻰ ﺃَﻧَّﻪُ ﺣَﺼَﻠَﺖْ ﻟَﻬُﻢْ ﻟِﻜَﺜْﺮَﺓِ ﻣُﺤَﺎﻭَﻟَﺔِ ﺃَﻟْﻔَﺎﻅِ ﺍﻟﻨَّﺒِﻲِّ ﺻَﻠَّﻰ ﺍﻟﻠﻪُ ﻋَﻠَﻴْﻪِ ﻭَﺳَﻠَّﻢَ ﻫَﻴْﺌَﺔٌ ﻧَﻔْﺴَﺎﻧِﻴَّﺔٌ ﻭَﻣَﻠَﻜَﺔٌ ﻗَﻮِﻳَّﺔٌ ﻳَﻌْﺮِﻓُﻮْﻥَ ﺑِﻬَﺎ ﻣَﺎ ﻳَﺠُﻮْﺯُ ﺃَﻥْ ﻳَﻜُﻮْﻥَ ﻣِﻦْ ﺃَﻟْﻔَﺎﻅِ ﺍﻟﻨُّﺒُﻮَّﺓِ ﻭَﻣَﺎ ﻟَﺎ ﻳَﺠُﻮْﺯُ


“And many times, they (the early scholars of Ḥadīth) issue this ruling, i.e. of fabrication, in consideration of matters related to the texts of the narration and the words of the narration, and the conclusion of this returns to the fact that due to perpetual engrossment with the words of the Prophet Ṣallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wasallam, they have acquired an innate nature and extraordinary ability through which they are able to recognise that which could be the Prophetic word and that which cannot”

[Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Daqīq al-‘Ῑd, ‘Al-Iqtirāḥ’, (Jordan: Dār al-‘Ulūm Lin Nashr wal-Tawzī’, 2007), pg.311-312] [‘Allāmah Sakhāwī Raḥimahullah, ‘Fatḥ al-Mugīth’, (Riyad: Dār al-Minhāj, 1436 AH), pg.128, v.2]

Ḥāfiẓ al-Dhahabī Raḥimahullah (d.748 AH) has also echoed these sentiments in his abridgement of Al-Iqtirah, Al-Mūqiẓah ; he explains that recognizing whether a Ḥadīth contradicts the principles of Sharī‘ah (Al Qawā’id) is reserved for those who have rigorously acquainted themselves with the Aḥādīth of the Prophet Ṣallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wasallam such that their expertise in Ḥadīth is like the expertise of a certified gemologist in gemstones.

[Ḥāfiẓ al-Dhahabī Raḥimahullah, ‘Al-Mūqiẓah’, (Beirut: Dār al-Bashā’ir al-Islāmiyyah, 1405 AH), pg.37] [Also see the parable presented by: Ḥāfiẓ al-Mughlaṭāy, ‘Iṣlāḥ Kitāb Ibn Ṣalāḥ’, (Cairo: Al-Maktabah al-Islāmiyyah, 2007), pg.143]

Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Rajab al-Ḥanbalī Raḥimahullah (d.795 AH) writes while commentating upon a narration:

ﻭَﺇِﻧَّﻤَﺎ ﺗُﺤْﻤَﻞُ ﻣِﺜْﻞُ ﻫَﺬِﻩِ ﺍﻟْﺄَﺣَﺎﺩِﻳْﺚِ – ﻋَﻠَﻰ ﺗَﻘْﺪِﻳْﺮِ ﺻِﺤَّﺘِﻪِ – ﻋَﻠَﻰ ﻣَﻌْﺮِﻓَﺔِ ﺃَﺋِﻤَﺔِ ﺍﻟْﺤَﺪِﻳْﺚِ ﺍﻟْﺠَﻬَﺎﺑِﺬَﺓِ ﺍﻟﻨُّﻘَّﺎﺩِ ﺍﻟَّﺬِﻳْﻦَ ﻛَﺜُﺮَﺕْ ﻣُﻤَﺎﺭَﺳَﺘَﻬُﻢْ ﻟِﻜَﻠَﺎﻡِ ﺍﻟﻨَّﺒِﻲِّ ﺻَﻠَﻰ ﺍﻟﻠﻪُ ﻋَﻠَﻴْﻪِ ﻭَﺳَﻠَّﻢَ ﻭَﻛَﻠَﺎﻡِ ﻏَﻴْﺮِﻩِ ﻭَﻟِﺤَﺎﻝِ ﺭُﻭَﺍﺓِ ﺍﻟْﺤَﺪِﻳْﺚِ ﻭَﻧَﻘْﻠَﺔِ ﺍﻟْﺄَﺧْﺒَﺎﺭِ ﻭَﻣَﻌْﺮِﻓَﺘِﻬِﻢْ ﺑِﺼِﺪْﻗِﻬِﻢْ ﻭَﻛَﺬِﺑِﻬِﻢْ ﻭَﺣِﻔْﻈِﻬِﻢْ ﻭَﺿَﺒْﻄِﻬِﻢْ ﻓَﺈِﻥَّ ﻫَﺆُﻟَﺎﺀِ ﻟَﻬُﻢْ ﻧَﻘْﺪٌ ﺧَﺎﺹٌّ ﻳَﺨْﺘَﺼُّﻮْﻥَ ﺑِﻤَﻌْﺮِﻓَﺘِﻪِ ﻛَﻤَﺎ ﻳَﺨْﺘَﺺُّ ﺍﻟﺼَّﻴْﺮَﻓِﻲُّ ﺍﻟْﺤَﺎﺫِﻕُ ﺑِﻤَﻌْﺮِﻓَﺔِ ﺍﻟﻨُّﻘُﻮْﺩِ ﺟَﻴِّﺪِﻫَﺎ ﻭَﺭَﺩِﻳْﺌِﻬَﺎ


“And indeed, narrations such as this – if authentic – are based upon the knowledge of the meticulous and assiduous Imāms of the Prophetic narration, whose engagement with the narrations of the Prophet Ṣallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wasallam and the narrations of others (such as the Ṣaḥābah and Tābi‘ūn) is intense, as well as their engagement with the status of the narrators of Ḥadīth and the recorders of the narrations, as well as their knowledge of the truthfulness and untruthfulness [of the narrators of Ḥadīth], and the memory and recollection [of the narrators of Ḥadīth], for indeed, these [Imāms] have a specialised method of criticism that only they are capable of, just as a certified money-exchanger specialises in the knowledge of coins; in recognizing the reliable [coins] from the counterfeit [coins]”

[Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Rajab al-Ḥanbalī Raḥimahullah, ‘Jāmi‘al-‘Ulūm wal-Ḥikam’, (Beirut: Mu’assasah al-Risālah, 1999), pg.105, v.2] [Also see: Shaykh Aḥmad Shākir, ‘Footnotes on Ṣaḥiḥ Ibn Ḥibbān’, (Egypt: Dār al-Ma‘ārif), pg.221, v.1]

It was for this reason that Ḥāfiẓ Al-‘Alā’ī Raḥimahullah (d.761 AH) said:

ﺍﻟْﺤُﻜْﻢُ ﻋَﻠَﻰ ﺍﻟْﺤَﺪِﻳْﺚِ ﺑِﻜَﻮْﻧِﻪِ ﻣَﻮْﺿُﻮْﻋًﺎ ﻣِﻦَ ﺍﻟْﻤُﺘَﺄَﺧِّﺮِﻳْﻦَ ﻋَﺴِﺮٌ ﺟِﺪًّﺍ ﻟِﺄَﻥَّ ﺫَﻟِﻚَ ﻟَﺎ ﻳَﺘَﺄَﺗَّﻰ ﺇِﻟَّﺎ ﺑَﻌْﺪَ ﺟَﻤْﻊِ ﺍﻟﻄُّﺮُﻕِ ﻭَﻛَﺜْﺮَﺓِ ﺍﻟﺘَّﻔْﺘِﻴْﺶِ … ﻭَﻫَﺬَﺍ ﺑِﺨِﻠَﺎﻑِ ﺍﻟْﺄَﺋِﻤَّﺔِ ﺍﻟْﻤُﺘَﻘَﺪِّﻣِﻴْﻦَ ﺍﻟَّﺬِﻳْﻦَ ﻣَﻨَﺤَﻬُﻢُ ﺍﻟﻠﻪُ ﺍﻟﺘَّﺒَﺤُّﺮَ ﻓِﻲْ ﻋِﻠْﻢِ ﺍﻟْﺤَﺪِﻳْﺚِ ﻭَﺍﻟﺘَّﻮَﺳُّﻊِ ﻓِﻲْ ﺣِﻔْﻈِﻪِ ﻛَﺸُﻌْﺒَﺔَ ﻭَﻳَﺤْﻴَﻰ ﺑْﻦِ ﺳَﻌِﻴْﺪِ ﺍﻟْﻘَﻄَّﺎﻥِ ﻭَﻋَﺒْﺪِ ﺍﻟﺮَّﺣْﻤَﻦِ ﺑْﻦِ ﻣَﻬْﺪِﻱْ ﻭَﻧَﺤْﻮِﻫِﻢْ ﺛُﻢَّ ﺃَﺻْﺤَﺎﺑِﻬِﻢْ ﻣِﺜْﻞِ ﺃَﺣْﻤَﺪَ ﺑِﻦْ ﺣَﻨْﺒَﻞَ ﻭَﻋَﻠِﻲِّ ﺑْﻦِ ﺍﻟْﻤَﺪِﻳْﻨِﻲِّ ﻭَﻳَﺤْﻴَﻰ ﺑْﻦِ ﻣَﻌِﻴْﻦَ ﻭَﺇِﺳْﺤَﺎﻕِ ﺑْﻦِ ﺭَﺍﻫْﻮِﻳْﻪ ﻭَﻃَﺎﺋِﻔَﺘِﻬِﻢْ ﺛُﻢَّ ﺃَﺻْﺤَﺎﺑِﻬِﻢْ ﻣِﺜْﻞِ ﺍﻟْﺒُﺨَﺎﺭِﻱِّ ﻭَﻣُﺴْﻠِﻢٍ ﻭَﺃَﺑِﻲْ ﺩَﺍﻭُﺩَ ﻭَﺍﻟﺘَّﺮْﻣِﺬِﻱِّ ﻭَﺍﻟﻨَّﺴَﺎﺋِﻲِّ ﻭَﻛَﺬَﻟِﻚَ ﺇِﻟَﻰ ﺯَﻣَﻦِ ﺍﻟﺪَّﺍﺭِﻗُﻄْﻨِﻲِّ ﻭَﺍﻟْﺒَﻴْﻬَﻘِﻲِّ ﻣِﻤَّﻦْ ﻟَﻢْ ﻳَﺠِﻴْﺊ ﺑَﻌْﺪَﻫُﻢْ ﻣُﺴَﺎﻭٍ ﻟَﻬُﻢْ ﺑَﻞْ ﻭَﻟَﺎ ﻣُﻘَﺎﺭِﺏٍ


“To rule a narration as fabricated is extremely difficult for the later scholars, as such a ruling cannot be placed except after gathering all of the chains of narration and after extensive investigation…and this is in contrast to the earlier scholars, those whom Allah blessed with profound knowledge of the field of Ḥadīth and vastness in memorising [the narrations], such as Shu‘bah, Yaḥyā ibn Sa‘īd Al Qaṭtān, ‘Abd al-Raḥmān ibn Mahdī, and others like them, then their companions, such as Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal, ‘Alī ibn al-Madīnī, Yaḥyā ibn Ma‘īn, Isḥāq ibn Rāhwayh, and their group, then their companions, such as Al-Bukhārī, Muslim, Abū Dāwūd, Tirmidhī, like this until the age of Al-Daruquṭnī and Al-Bayhaqī, who were from amongst those whom none came after them that were capable of equaling them or coming close to them”

[Ḥāfiẓ Al-‘Alā’ī, ‘Al-Naqd al-Ṣarīḥ Limā U’turiḍa ‘Alayh Min Aḥādīth al-Maṣābīḥ – Majmū’ Rasā’il Ḥāfiẓ Al-‘Alā’ī’, (Cairo: Al-Fārūq al-Ḥadīthiyyah, 2013), pg.72, v.4] [See: ‘Allāmah Badr al-Dīn al-Zarkashī Raḥimahullah, ‘Al-Nukat ‘Alā Ibn al-Ṣalāḥ’, (Riyad: Aḍwā al-Salaf, 1998), pg.267, v.2]

The early scholars – who were afforded this privilege of being able to deduce whether a narration is fabricated or not by looking at its text due to their
profound knowledge of Sharī’ah – had not only memorised hundreds of thousands of Aḥādīth, they had even memorized the wordings of the chain of narration. Consider the following example:

ﻗَﺎﻝَ ﺧَﻠْﻒُ ‏( ﺑْﻦُ ﺳَﺎﻟِﻢٍ ﺍﻟْﻤَﺨْﺮَﻣِﻲُّ ‏) ﺳَﻤِﻌْﺖُ ﺳُﻔْﻴَﺎﻥَ ﺑْﻦَ ﻋُﻴَﻴْﻨَﺔَ ﻳَﻘُﻮْﻝُ ﻧَﺎ ﻋَﻤْﺮُﻭ ﺑْﻦُ ﺩِﻳْﻨَﺎﺭٍ ﻳُﺮِﻳْﺪُ ﺣَﺪَّﺛَﻨَﺎ ﻋَﻤْﺮٌﻭ ﺑْﻦُ ﺩِﻳْﻨَﺎﺭٍ ﻓَﺈِﺫَﺍ ﻗِﻴْﻞَ ﻟﺨَﻠَﻒ ﻗُﻞْ ﺣَﺪَّﺛَﻨَﺎ ﻋَﻤْﺮٌﻭ ﻗَﺎﻝَ ﻟَﺎ ﺃَﻗُﻮْﻝُ ﻟِﺄَﻧِّﻲْ ﻟَﻢْ ﺃَﺳْﻤَﻊْ ﻣِﻦْ ﻗَﻮْﻟِﻪِ ” ﺣَﺪَّﺛَﻨَﺎ ” ﺛَﻠَﺎﺛَﺔَ ﺃَﺣْﺮُﻑٍ ﻟِﻜَﺜْﺮَﺓِ ﺍﻟﺰِّﺣَﺎﻡِ ﻭَﻫِﻲَ ﺡَ ﺩَّ ﺙَ


“Khalaf (Sālim al-Mukharrimī) said, ‘I heard Sufyān ibn ‘Uyaynah say, ‘To us ‘Amr ibn Dīnār’, intending by this ‘Narrated to us ‘Amr ibn Dīnār’, thus when it was asked of him (i.e of Khalaf), ‘[Why don’t you] say, “Narrated to us ‘Amr”’, he replied, ‘I will not say [that] for indeed I did not hear from his (Sufyān ibn ‘Uyanah’s) statement ‘Narrated to us’ three letters; ﺡ ﺩ ﺙ (which translates to: Narrated) due to a loud noise”

[Al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī Raḥimahullah, ‘Al-Kifāyah Fī ‘Ilm al-Riwāyah’, (n.a: Dār al-Hudā, 2003), v.1, pg.242]

The dedication and engrossment of the scholars of the past in memorizing and narrating Aḥādīth may be understood from the story of Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad ibn Sulaymān al-Bāgandī Raḥimahullah (d.312 AH). ‘Umar ibn Aḥmad al-Wā‘iẓ Raḥimahullah states:

ﻗَﺎﻡَ ﺃَﺑُﻮْ ﺑَﻜْﺮٍ ﺍﻟْﺒَﺎﻏَﻨْﺪِﻱُّ ﻟِﻴُﺼَﻠِّﻲَ ﻓَﻜَﺒَّﺮَ ﺛُﻢَّ ﻗَﺎﻝَ ﺣَﺪَّﺛَﻨَﺎ ﻣُﺤَﻤَّﺪُ ﺑْﻦُ ﺳُﻠَﻴْﻤَﺎﻥَ ﻟُﻮَﻳْﻦُ ﻓَﺴَﺒَّﺤْﻨَﺎ ﺑِﻪِ ﻓَﻘَﺎﻝَ ” ﺑِﺴْﻢِ ﺍﻟﻠﻪِ ﺍﻟﺮَّﺣْﻤَﻦِ ﺍﻟﺮَّﺣِﻴْﻢِ ﺍﻟْﺤَﻤْﺪُ ﻟِﻠﻪِ ﺭَﺏِّ ﺍﻟْﻌَﺎﻟَﻤِﻴْﻦَ ”


“Abū Bakr al-Bāgandī stood up to perform Salah, he read aloud the Takbīr, then said, ‘Muḥammad ibn Sulaymān Luwayn has narrated to us’, so we began to recite the Tasbīḥ (in order to alert him of the mistake), and so he began to read, ‘Bismillāhir Raḥmānir Raḥīm Alḥamdulillāhi Rabbil ‘Ālamīn’”

[Al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī Raḥimahullah, ‘Tārikh Baghdād’, (Beirut: Dār al-Gharb al-Islāmī, 2001), pg.345, v.4]

It was through this incredible engrossment with Ḥadīth that these few eminent scholars of the past developed profound knowledge of Sharī‘ah and its principles. Their entire days and nights were dedicated to Aḥādīth.
In conclusion, the notion of issuing a ruling on a narration based upon when the text of the narration is contradicting a principle of Sharī‘ah was a privilege reserved only for a few selected scholars of Islām, whose knowledge of Sharī‘ah was of the caliber that we have demonstrated above.

Was it easy for the scholars of the past to deduce whether a narration contradicts the principles and objectives of Sharī‘ah?

Even during the age of these privileged scholars of Islām , to issue a ruling of fabrication upon the authenticity of a narration because it contradicts the principles and objectives of Sharī‘ah was not an easy task.

The authoritative scholar, Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Ḥajr al-‘Asqalānī Raḥimahullah (d.882 AH), writes:

ﻭَﻫَﺬَﺍ ﺍﻟْﻔَﻦُّ ﺃَﻏْﻤَﺾُ ﺃَﻧْﻮَﺍﻉِ ﺍﻟْﺤَﺪِﻳْﺚِ ﻭَﺃَﺩَﻗِّﻬَﺎ ﻣَﺴْﻠَﻜًﺎ ﻭَﻟَﺎ ﻳَﻘُﻮْﻡُ ﺑِﻪِ ﺇِﻟَّﺎ ﻣَﻦْ ﻣَﻨَﺤَﻪُ ﺍﻟﻠﻪُ ﺗَﻌَﺎﻟَﻰ ﻓَﻬْﻤًﺎ ﻏَﺎﻳِﺼًﺎ ﻭَﺍﻃِّﻠَﺎﻋًﺎ ﺣَﺎﻭِﻳًﺎ ﻭَﺇِﺩْﺭَﺍﻛًﺎ ﻟِﻤَﺮَﺍﺗِﺐِ ﺍﻟﺮُّﻭَﺍﺓِ ﻭَﻣَﻌْﺮِﻓَﺔٍ ﺛَﺎﻗِﺒَﺔٍ ﻭَﻟِﻬَﺬَﺍ ﻟَﻢْ ﻳَﺘَﻜَﻠَّﻢْ ﻓِﻴْﻪِ ﺇِﻟَّﺎ ﺃَﻓْﺮَﺍﺩُ ﺃَﺋِﻤَّﺔِ ﻫَﺬَﺍ ﺍﻟﺸَّﺄْﻥِ ﻭَﺣُﺬَّﺍﻗِﻬِﻢْ ﻭَﺇِﻟَﻴْﻬِﻢُ ﺍﻟْﻤَﺮْﺟَﻊُ ﻓِﻲْ ﺫَﻟِﻚَ ﻟِﻤَﺎ ﺟَﻌَﻞَ ﺍﻟﻠﻪُ ﻓِﻴْﻬِﻢْ ﻣِﻦْ ﻣَﻌْﺮِﻓَﺔِ ﺫَﻟِﻚَ ﻭَﺍﻟْﺈِﻃِّﻠَﺎﻉِ ﻋَﻠَﻰ ﻏَﻮَﺍﻣِﻀِﻪِ ﺩُﻭْﻥَ ﻏَﻴْﺮِﻫِﻢْ ﻣِﻤَّﻦْ ﻟَﻢْ ﻳُﻤَﺎﺭِﺱْ ﺫَﻟِﻚَ


“And this field (the field of Al ‘Ilal) is the most complex of the fields of Ḥadīth, and the most delicate to approach, and none have stood up to it except those whom Allah the Almighty blessed with a deep understanding, encompassing research, knowledge of the categories of narrations, and a sagacious intellect. It is for this reason that none spoke in this [field] except a few of the scholars of Ḥadīth and its most intelligent personalities, and reliance is upon them in this field, due to that which Allah had given to them from the knowledge of this [field] and research upon its intricacies, none besides them from amongst those who have not acquired this”

[Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Ḥajr Raḥimahullah, ‘Al-Nukat ‘Alā Ibn al-Ṣalāḥ’, (Ajman: Maktabah al-Furqān, 2003), pg.187, v.2]

There are examples of early scholars who criticized the text of a narration based upon their understanding of the narration (as they felt that it contradicted the principles and objectives of Sharī‘ah) but were then refuted by other early scholars of their caliber who understood the correct meaning of the Ḥadīth and found no qualms in its connotations.

[See: Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Ḥajar Raḥimahullah, ‘ Lisān al-Mīzān ’, (Beirut: Dār al-Bashāir al-Islāmiyyah, 2002), pg.180, v.4 – entry: Sulayman ibn Harim]

[See: Ḥāfiẓ al-Zayla‘ī Raḥimahullah, ‘ Naṣb al-Rāyah ’, (Beirut: Mu’assasah al-Rayyān, 1997), pg.174, v.4]

[See: Ḥāfiẓ al-Dhahabī Raḥimahullah, ‘ Siyar A’lām al-Nubalā ’, (Beirut: Mu’assash al-Risalah, 1984), pg.98, v.16]

[See: Ḥāfiẓ al-Dhahabī Raḥimahullah, ‘ Mīzān Al I’tidāl ’, (Beirut: Mu’assasah al-Risālah,), pg.101, v.2 – entry: Zayd ibn Wahab]

[See: Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Ḥajar Raḥimahullah, ‘ Lisān al-Mīzān ’, (Beirut: Dār al-Bashāir al-Islāmiyyah, 2002), pg.222, v.1 – entry: Abān ibn Sufyān]

[See: Al-Jawraqānī Raḥimahullah, ‘ Al-Abāṭīl wal-Manākīr wal-Ṣiḥāḥ wal-Mashāhīr ’, (India: Idarah al-Buhuth, 1983), pg.80, v.1]

[See: ‘Allamah Badr al-Din al-Zarkashi Rahimahullah, ‘Al-Nukat ‘Ala Ibn al-Salah ’, (Riyad: Adwa al-Salaf, 1998), pg.270, v.2]

[See: Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Ḥajar Raḥimahullah, ‘ Fatḥ al-Bārī ’, (Cairo: al-Maktabah al-Ṣalafiyyah), pg.16, v.7]

[See: Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Ḥajar Raḥimahullah, ‘ Fatḥ al-Bārī ’, (Cairo: al-Maktabah al-Ṣalafiyyah), pg.401, v.13]

Accordingly, memorization of Aḥādīth alone is not enough; rather, one is also required to have an expert understanding of the teachings of Sharī‘ah and the Aḥādīth that he has memorised.

‘Alī ibn al-Madīnī Raḥimahullah (d.234 AH) said:

ﺍﻟﺘَّﻔًﻘُّﻪُ ﻓِﻲْ ﻣَﻌَﺎﻧِﻲ ﺍﻟْﺤَﺪِﻳْﺚِ ﻧِﺼْﻒُ ﺍﻟْﻌِﻠْﻢِ


“Understanding of the meanings of Ḥadīth is half of knowledge”

[Ḥāfiẓ Al Dhahabī Raḥimahullah, ‘Siyar A’lām al-Nubalā’, (Beirut: Mu’assasah Al Risālah, 1985), v.11, pg.48]

In conclusion, determining whether a Ḥadīth contradicts the principles and objectives of Sharī‘ah was solely reserved for those illustrious scholars of the past whose knowledge of Sharī‘ah was so profound, that they could at will recite hundreds of thousands of Aḥādīth with their chain of narration; the likes of Imām Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal Raḥimahullah (d.241 AH), Imām Al-Bukhārī Raḥimahullah (d.256 AH), et al. These scholars were also blessed with an incredible understanding of the Aḥādīth that they had memorized.

As for the guidelines presented by the likes of Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah Raḥimahullah (d.751 AH) in his Al-Manār al-Munīf and Fakhr al-Din al-Razi Raḥimahullah (d.606 AH) in his Al-Maḥṣūl for recognizing a fabricated narration, then these guidelines are no different to Fiqh Maxims ( Al-Qawaid al-Fiqhiyyah ), in the sense that a narration cannot be labeled a fabrication simply based upon these guidelines just as a Fatwa cannot be issued based upon Fiqh Maxims ( Al-Qawāid al-Fiqhiyyah ), rather, the rulings of the expert scholars of the past must be followed.

Thus, a claim that a certain Ḥadīth should be rejected because it contradicts the principles and objectives of Islām may be refuted with the question; exactly how many Aḥādīth have you memorized with their chains of narration for you to claim that you have knowledge of the principles and objectives of Sharī‘ah?


Above, we have demonstrated the role of the intellect/reason in Sharī‘ah and the role of the intellect/reason in the noble Aḥādīth. We have shown that the scholars did not at all permit rejecting Aḥādīth that herald an element of miracles.

We have also shown that criticising the authenticity of a narration based upon the fact that the text of the narration contradicts the principles and objectives of Sharī‘ah such that it cannot be the Prophet word was an incredibly delicate task, which only a select few privileged scholars were able to do. We are required to follow their rulings.

Indeed, the scholars of Ḥadīth emphasized incredible precaution before labeling a narration as a fabrication [See: Jālāl al-Dīn al-Suyūṭī Raḥimahullah, ‘Al-Baḥr al-Ladhī Zakhar’, (Madinah: Maktabah al-Ghurabā al-Athariyyah, 1999), pg.874-876, v.2]. This precaution was burgeoned when the chain of narration contained reliable narrators, in such a case – when the narrators of the narration are all reliable – only the elite scholars of the past could criticize the authenticity of the narration. [See: Ḥātim al-‘Awnī, ‘Sharḥ Mūqiẓah al-Dhahabī’, (Riyad: Dār Ibn al-Jawzī, 1427 AH), pg.62: Fa Innanā La Naḥkum ‘Alayhi Bil Waḍ‘i Illā Bi Qarā’in Qawiyyah Jiddan ] .

We end with a quote from the Yemeni scholar, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Raḥmān ibn Yaḥyā al-Mu‘allimī Raḥimahullah (d.1386 AH), who said:

ﻭَﺍﻟْﺤَﻖُّ ﺃَﻧَّﻪُ ﻟَﻢْ ﻳَﻜُﻦْ ﻓِﻲ ﻋُﻠَﻤَﺎﺀِ ﺍﻟْﺄُﻣَّﺔِ ﺍﻟْﻤَﺮْﺿِﻴِّﻴْﻦَ ﻣَﻦْ ﻳَﺮُﺩُّ ﺣَﺪِﻳْﺜًﺎ ﺑَﻠَﻐَﻪُ ﺇِﻟَّﺎ ﻟِﻌُﺬْﺭٍ ﻳَﺤْﺘَﻤِﻠُﻪُ ﻟَﻪُ ﺃَﻛْﺜَﺮُ ﺃَﻫْﻞِ ﺍﻟْﻌِﻠْﻢِ ﻋَﻠَﻰ ﺍﻟْﺄَﻗَﻞِّ


“And indeed, the reality is that there was none from the accepted scholars of the past who labelled a narration that reached him as a fabrication except that he did so due to a reason that, at the very least, the majority of the scholars would accept [as a valid reason]”

[Shaykh ‘Abd al-Raḥmān ibn Yaḥyā al-Mu‘allimī Raḥimahullah, ‘Al-Anwār al-Kāshifah’, (Makah: Dār ‘Alam Al-Fawā’id, 1434 AH), pg.17]

Every individual must ask himself; if the illustrious scholars of the past – who were of the calibre that we have demonstrated above (i.e. hundreds of thousands of Aḥādīth flowed at their fingertips) and whose days and nights were spent in the sciences of the Qur’ān and Ḥadīth – have authenticated a Ḥadīth, how can a person in this day and age claim that the Ḥadīth is fabricated? Only if an individual has memorised the number of Aḥādīth that they had memorised could one come even close to making such a claim.

These perspicacious and astute scholars, the likes of Imām Al-Bukhari Raḥimahullah (d.256 AH) and Imām Muslim Raḥimahullah (d.261 AH), did not simply dedicate a portion of their life to the field of Ḥadīth; they dedicated their entire lives to the field of Ḥadīth. Indeed, a person’s Ῑmān remains protected by relying on the deductions and rulings of these meticulous and accepted scholars of the past. Following the ramblings and isolated opinions of the iconoclasts of today can only lead to misguidance.

May Allah guide us and protect us.


Hadith as Standing Authority of the Shari’ah

By Mujlisul Ulama

ALL THE commands given by the Ahadith are derived from the Qur’an and are an exposition thereof, although their particular nature has given rise to two forms. One of them being subordinate to the Qur’an, should be called exposition of the Qur’an, even though the relationship between the two be subtle and cannot be discovered without deep knowledge. The second is juridical. From this viewpoint the Hadith should constitute a permanent source of and standing authority for Islamic jurisprudence. Therefore, those nusus (texts) of the Qur’an which pronounce the Hadith as exposition, indicate its subordinate and derivative nature, while those which show it to be a source of the Shari’ah declare its commandments to be like Qur’anic commandments and make it analogous to the Qur’an as bearing the authority of Shari’ah, as has been explained in his Hadith.

And indeed, the Prophet of God has prohibited certain things just as God has done, or has been stated in the following hadith:

Be aware that I have been given the Qur’an and its analogue also. [Abd Dawud]

These show that particular aspect of the Hadith which invests it with an independent position in respect of the Shari’ah. There is, however, another facet to the Hadith – certain commands are contained in the Hadith but not in the Qur’an as evidenced by the Hadith reported by Miqdam bin Ma’d’i Karb, which unequivocally establishes the authoritative stance and independent position of the Tradition in respect of Shari’ah. According to it the meat of the domestic ass is prohibited, although it is not prohibited by the Qur’an. Likewise, the meat of carnivorous or hunting animals has been forbidden by the Hadith and not by the Qur’an.

These and many other commandments which derive from the Tradition show the independent nature of the Hadith as the source of Shari’ah apart from the Qur’an. Sometimes even the link between the Hadith and the Qur’an is not visible, which is contrary to the Hadith being exposition of the Qur’an and the assumption made above to the effect that the Ahadith are-but exposition of the Qur’an. The answer to this would be that such reports and commands cannot escape being exposition of the Qur’an, for, even if they do not appear in any particular ayah in part, they would, on the whole, be an exposition of the following ayah in which the matter has been put down as a general rule: 

Whatever the messenger giveth you, take it, and whatsoever he forbiddeth, abstain (from it). [Qur’an 59:7].

Thus all commandments of this type made by the Holy Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) are an exposition of the above ayah. Here the Holy Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallim) has been directed to issue commands on his own and the legal decisions are declared to be parallel to those of the Qur’an. By this token the two Ahadith quoted above are, according to this ayah (59:7), expositions of the latter, and all the commandments given by the Holy Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) consequently stand confirmed as the exposition of the Qur’an.

The Companions of the Holy Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) and the virtuous ones of the succeeding generation (salaf saliheen) called such commands of permanent nature Qur’anic commandments and exposition of the Qur’an according to this very hadith.  Hadrat ‘Abd Allah bin Mas’ud (radhiyallahu anhu) was once asked by an old woman: You curse a tattooing woman but nowhere in the Qur’an has tattooing been prohibited.” Hadhrat ‘Abd Allah bin Mas’ud replied: “I wish thou hadst been reading the Qur’an. Does it not say “whatever the messenger giveth you”? The old woman said, “Yes, so is it written.” Hadhrat Mas’ud then said: “If so, because of this authority the Prophet of God has cursed the tattooing woman and has commanded us to desist from this abominable act. This command of the Holy Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), by virtue of being an exposition of this ayah, has become a Qur’anic command itself.”

Another episode regarding the permanent nature of the Hadith as a primary source of the Shari’ah  relates to Imam Shafi’i. Once, when Imam Shafi’i was in the precincts of Ka’bah, he said with a scholar’s exuberant confidence: “Today I propose to reply every question on the authority of the Qur’an.” One of those present asked: “Where is the commandment to kill a wasp within the precincts of Ka’bah in the Qur’an, which is permitted by the Shafi’i school?” Imam Shafi’i replied: the ayah “Whatever the messenger giveth you, take it,”  shows that it is obligatory upon us to obey the Holy Prophet, while the hadith “Follow Abi Bakr and ‘Umar after me,” makes it obligatory to follow both Abi Bakr and ‘Umar. And since ‘Umar has said: “The wasp can be killed in Ka’bah,” this command is derived from the ayah, and being its exposition, constitutes a Qur’anic commandment

In sum, two aspects of the Hadith stand established. One is its derivative aspect, being an elaboration of the Qur’an, and the other is its subtle relationship with the Qur’an, being its standing authority, even though it is the elaboration of the latter. But manifestly, since the commandments of the Holy Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) are proof of the Qur’anic text, the Qur’an and the Hadith are kindred.

The Hadith, therefore, logically branches off into two kinds:

(i) as a primary source,
(ii) as the derivation of the Qur’anic text.

From the viewpoint of the Qur’an it will be regarded as derived, for it is its exposition (and exposition is subservient to what it discusses) and from the juridical point of view would be equated with the original source, as legal principles are derived from it also. The Hadith is, therefore, a great intermediary (barzakh­i-kubra) which acquires knowledge from the Qur’an and passes it on to fiqh. Were the Hadith not there, no connecting link between the Qur’an and fiqh could have been possible, and the same is true of the significance.

The Hadith of Hadhrat Musa (Alayhissalaam) Punching Malakul Maut

By Mujlisul Ulama

Narrated Abu Huraira (Radhiyallahu Anhu): The angel of death was sent to Musa (alayhissalaam) and when he went to him, Musa (alayhissalaam) slapped him severely, spoiling one of his eyes. The angel went back to his Lord, and said, “You sent me to a slave who does not want to die.” Allah restored his eye and said, “Go back and tell him (i.e. Musa alayhissalaam) to place his hand over the back of an ox, for he will be allowed to live for a number of years equal to the number of hairs coming under his hand.” (So the angel came to him and told him the same). Then Musa (alayhissalaam) asked, “O my Lord! What will be then?” He said, “Death will be then.” He (Musa alayhissalaam) said, “(Let it be) now.” He asked Allah that He bring him near the Sacred Land at a distance of a stone’s throw. Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said, “Were I there I would show you the grave of Musa (alayhissalaam) by the way near the red sand hill.” [Sahih Bukhari]

The acceptance of this Hadith as authentic by the greatest authorities of Hadith negates the slightest shad­ow of doubt regarding the authenticity of the Hadith which is nowadays being subjected to blasphemous ridi­cule and criticism. The authenticity of the Hadith is established and has been upheld by all authorities of Ahadith. For the past fourteen hundred years, ijma’ (Consensus of the Ummah) has existed on the authenti­city of this Hadith – on the fact that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) did make this statement. Who then are those in this belated age to reject and ridicule this authentic Hadith – the sacred utterance of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam)? Only those whose hearts have become sealed to the Noor of Hidayah can venture to undertake the peril of mocking and ridiculing the authentic and sacred words of Nabi-e-Kareem (sallallahu alayhi wasallam).

Hadhrat Imaam Nawawi (rahmatullah alayh), the great authority of the Shafi Math-hab, states in his Sharhul Muslim (Commentary of the Saheeh of Imaam Muslim):

“AI-Maazari said: ‘Verily, some atheists have refuted this Hadith and have rejected its probability. They say that how is it permissible for Musa to break the eye of Malakul Maut?”

This self-same argument which the mulaahidah (atheists) of Imaam Nawawi’s time advanced is today being propounded by some people who align themse­lves with the people of knowledge. Thus, in considering their reason or intelligence to be the standard for the acceptance of a hadith, they have grouped themselves together with the mulaahidah  mentioned by Imaam Nawawi (rahmatullah alayh).

Since this Hadith has been reliably attributed to Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and there is not the slightest vestige of doubt in its authenticity, the question of its refutation does not occur to men grounded in Knowledge and Imaan. If logic conflicts with the sacred utterance of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayh wasallam), we shall and must necessarily abandon such logic as defective and crooked and uphold the correct­ness and validity of the Hadith. Every statement of Nabi-e-Kareem (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) was made on inspiration and revelation from Allah Ta’ala, hence the Qur’aan Shareef declares categorically:

“He [Muhammad] does not speak by his desire. It [his talk] is nothing but Wahi which is revealed.”

Hence, those who deny the validity and correctness of the proven and sacred words of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) do so at the peril of their Imaan.

In their rejection of this Saheeh Hadith they present another utterly fallacious argument. They cite the Qur’­aanic ayat:

“They [i.e.the Angels] do not disobey Allah regard­ing that which He has commanded them. And, they do as they are commanded.”

This ayat is cited by the rejectors of the Hadith as their proof. It is indeed unworthy of men of knowledge to resort to such baseless ways of argumentation. This fallacious arguments mirrors the lack of understanding of the rejectors of the Hadith and their inability to argue their case on the basis of the Shariah. Firstly, this ayat does not remotely refer to the Hadith or the subject of the Hadith in question. There is no relationship between the ayat cited and the Hadith which is being rejected and subjected to ridicule by some Sheikhs. The Malaaikah (Angels) being in perpetual obedience to Allah Ta’ala is not refuted or doubted. The Hadith pert­aining to Nabi Musaa (alayhis salaam) and Malakul Maut in no way negates the obedience of the Malaaikah stated in the Qur’aanic verse.

There is absolutely no contradiction between the Hadith in question and the Qur’aanic verse cited by the rejectors. In returning to Allah Ta’ala after being expelled by Musaa (alayhis salaam), Malakul Maut did not disobey Allah Ta’ala because his (Malakul Maut’s) return was not due to disobedience, but was occasioned by helplessness. Nabi Musaa (alayhis salaam) rendered him helpless. This may seem surprising to the logic of those who have rejected the authenticity of the Hadith without having the slightest Shar’i evidence. But, to people of firm Imaan there is nothing surprising in Nabi Musaa (alayhis salaam) having rendered Malakul Maut helpless on this occasion. It should be well understood that the Ambiya (alayhimus salaam) are the chosen representatives and messengers of Allah Ta’ala. They have a superior rank than the Malaaikah.

The Sajdah which all Malaaikah made to Nabi Aadam (alayhis salaam) is indicative of the superiority of the Ambiya over the Malaaikah. In fact, it is the unanimous belief of the Ahl-e-Sunnah Wal jama’ah that the Ambiya (alayhimus salaam) are sup­erior in rank to the Angels. This fact is known to Malakul Maut and all the Malaaikah. Therefore, assuming that Malakul Maut had the power to retaliate when Musa (alayhis salaam) struck him, it is inconceivable that he would have retaliated and acted in opposition to the wishes of his superior, viz., Musa (alayhis salaam) in this case. Should Malakul Maut have acted in retaliation or take the soul of Nabi Musaa (alayhis salaam) contrary to his wishes, he would have been acting in contravent­ion of the command which is stated in the ayat: “They do not disobey Allah.”, because it is Allah’s Command that Malakul Maut takes the soul of the Ambiya (alayh­imus salaam) with their permission. Hence, when Mala­kul Maut returned to Allah Ta’ala, he did so in obed­ience to the Divine Command since he was under the impression that Nabi Musaa (alayhis salaam) refused to die at that time.

The authorities of the Shariah have also said that on that particular occasion, Malakul Maut visited Nabi Musaa (alayhis salaam) in human form. He appeared unannounced and did not introduce himself. Musaa (alayhis salaam) mistook him for an intruder about to attack him, hence he acted in self-defence. But, when Malakul Maut returned the second time he revealed his identity, hence Nabi Musaa (alayhis salaam) readily submitted inspite of the fact that Allah Ta’ala granted Musaa (alayhis salaam) the choice of remaining alive for as many years as he wished.

Allah Ta’ala has bestowed tremendous power to Nabi Musaa (alayhis salaam). In one hadith, Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam)-said:

“Verily, mankind will be in a swoon [of death on the Day of Qiyaamah after the Trumpet has been sounded]. will be the first to be revived [when the Trumpet is sounded the second time]. Then suddenly I will observe Musaa [alayhis salaam] holding onto the side of the Arsh [Throne of Allah]. I do not know if he was among those who had passed out [into non-existence when the Trumpet was sounded the first time] and was revived before me or was he among those who have been saved [from the destruction wrought by the Trumpet].”

Those who are holding up the Throne of Allah Ta’ala are Malaaikah of colossal power. Their size and power as described by Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) boggle the human mind. Yet Musa (alayhis salaam) on the Day of Qiyaamah will be in that group of mighty Angels holding aloft the Arsh of Allah Ta’ala. This in itself indicates the enormous power which Allah Ta’ala has bestowed to Nabi Musaa (alayhis salaam). Lest the rejectors ridicule this Hadith as well, we furnish here­under the proof of its authenticity. Imaam Muslim (rahmatullah alayh) records this Hadith in his Saheeh with five Sanads.

We have, by the grace of Allah Ta’ala explained the proof and the subject matter of the Hadith which has been ridiculed and rejected in some quarters. Muslims who have been thrown into doubt should now under­stand that the Hadith is Saheeh (authentic) and has been accepted as such by the Ummah and all authorit­ies of the Shariah for the past fourteen centuries. The rejection of the Hadith presented by some Sheikhs is thus baseless and without substance. And, upon us is but to deliver the clear message: 

They follow nothing but baseless opinion,and they do nothing but conjecture. [Qur’an]

Hadith & Sunnah Explains the Qur’an

“Praise be to Allah who revealed to His servant the Book and placed therein no crookedness. He has made it straight in order that He may warn of a terrible punishment from him and that He may give glad tidings to the believers who work righteous deeds that they shall have a great reward wherein they shall abide forever. Further, that He may warn those who claim that Allah has begotten a son.” [Sûrah al-Kahf: 1-4]

May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon His Messenger who said: “I was given the Qur’ân and something else like it. I fear lest a man will sit contentedly reclining and say: ‘You must follow this Qur’ân. Whatever you find therein permissible, permit it, and whatever you find therein prohibited, forbid it.’ Nay, for indeed whatever Allah’s Messenger has prohibited, it is as if Allah has prohibited it.”   [Musnad Ahmad 17174]

It is one of Allah’s blessings upon humanity that He has preserved among them His revealed words without allowing any corruption to alter them. This may indeed be Allah’s greatest blessing upon humanity as a whole, since His Book provides them with a way to properly govern their lives and resolve their disputes.

The Qur’ân came to humanity after all the previous revealed scriptures had either been lost or, like the Torah and the Gospel, corrupted. Allah speaks about how people had corrupted the scriptures, saying: “Woe to those who write the Book with their own hands and then say: ‘This is from Allah’ to gain from it a paltry  price. So woe to them for what their hands have written and woe to them for what they gain from it.” [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 79]

If the Qur’ân is Allah’s greatest blessing upon humanity, it follows that knowledge of the commentary and interpretation of the Qur’ân is the greatest of all knowledge, since it is the knowledge that gives humanity a correct understanding of what Allah is saying to them. This is why scholars throughout history have given this field of study so much attention and have written so extensively about it.

The commentary of the Qur’ân began at the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Indeed, the Prophet (peace be upon him) is the primary source for explaining Allah’s Book. He explained the meanings of the Qur’ân’s verses by his words and by his deeds.

In this short treatise, we shall investigate this prophetic commentary of the Qur’ân. This investigation will be organized into the following chapters:

Chapter One: Special qualities of the Qur’ân
Chapter Two: Muslim efforts in  interpreting the Qur’ân
Chapter Three: How the Prophet  conveyed the Qur’ân
Chapter Four: The commentary  of the Companions
Chapter Five: How the Sunnah explains the Qur’ân

Special Qualities of the Qur’ân

Without a doubt, the most salient feature of the Qur’ân is that it is Allah’s word. Allah says: “It is indeed a mighty Book. Falsehood cannot approach it from before it or from behind it. It is revelation from one who is wise and worthy of praise.” [Sûrah Fussilat: 41-42]

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “The Qur’ân has the distinction over all other speech that Allah has over His Creation.” [Sunan al-Dârimî 3399]

It is sufficient that the Qur’ân is the speech of Allah. It needs no other special distinction after that. However, I feel that it is necessary for the purpose of this treatise for me to point out three more remarkable qualities of Allah’s Book.

1. The first of these distinctive features is that the Qur’ân has been perfectly preserved. Allah says: “Indeed, We have revealed the Remembrance, and indeed We shall be its protector.” [Sûrah al-Hijr: 9]

Since the time it was revealed, Allah has preserved the Qur’ân in the hearts of the people and in writing. It had  been committed to memory by the Companions and by every generation that came after them. The care paid by the Muslims in accurately recording and memorizing the Qur’ân has been phenomenal. Every letter and vowel mark indicating every mode of reciting the Qur’ân has been preserved without the least addition or subtraction.

Al-Qurtubî and some other scholars of Qur’ânic commentary mention an interesting story regarding the preservation of the Qur’ân:

The Caliph al-Ma`mûn used to convene intellectual gatherings. One of these meetings was attended by a man wearing beautiful clothing, possessing a handsome face, and followed by a sweet fragrance. He spoke in a most eloquent manner. When the meeting was adjourned, al-Ma’mûn summoned this man and asked him: “Are you from the Israelites?” He replied that he was. Al-Ma’mûn said: “Accept Islam and I shall arrange good things for you.” Al-Ma’mûn made him a number of promises.

The man merely replied “My religion and the religion of my forefathers” and went away.

A year later, he returned as a Muslim. He spoke about matters of Islamic Law in a most proficient manner. When the meeting was adjourned, al-Ma’mûn again summoned him and said: “Are you not the man who was with us before?” He replied that he was. Al-Ma’mûn then asked him what had prompted him to accept Islam.

He replied: “When I left your presence, I wished to put these religions to the test. And you indeed regard me a man of keen intellect. So I turned my attention to the Torah. I produced three copies of it, each time adding and deleting some things from it. Then I took these copies to the place of prayer and they were purchased from me.

“I then turned my attention to the Qur’ân and drafted thre  copies of it, each time adding and deleting some things from it. Then I took these copies to the copyists and they skimmed through them. When they found the additions and deletions that I had made, they threw them aside and did not purchase them. So I came to know that this is a protected book, and this is the reason that I accepted Islam.”

2. The second distinctive feature is that the Qur’ân is complete and comprehensive. Allah says about the Qur’ân that it is “…a detailed exposition of all things” [Sûrah Yûsuf: 111]

There is no matter that humanity needs to know about in their religion or their worldly life without the Qur’ân discussing it. It does so by mentioning it directly, or by providing a general principle that covers it, or by referring to another source like the Sunnah, juristic consensus, or juristic analogy.

In this way, every issue of this world and the next that concerns people individually or collectively is dealt with, from matters of faith and morality to social, political, and economic concerns. It is all found in the Qur’ân. If it is not mentioned specifically, then it is covered as part of something broader.

The Qur’ân provides the essential teachings of faith and law and embraces in its comprehensiveness all the affairs of human life.

3. The third distinctive feature is that the Qur’ân is the absolute, indisputable truth. Allah says: “This is the Book wherein there is no doubt, a guide for those who fear Allah.” [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 2]

Whatever the Qur’ân says about the past, present, and future is true. It is absolutely impossible for the Qur’ân to be in contradiction with the actualities of the world, whether the historical events of the past or the scientific discoveries of the future.

We assert without the  least hesitation on the basis of our faith in Allah that everything the Qur’ân says about the nations of the past, the happenings of the future, the stories of the Prophets, the physical realities of the universe, and the human soul are all true. For this reason, we know that it is impossible for science to come with a fact that contradicts with the Qur’ân. Whoever claims that there is a scientific fact that contradicts with the Qur’ân is either misunderstanding the Qur’ân or the scientific concepts in question.

Such a contradiction is impossible, because the one who revealed the Qur’ân is the one who created the universe and everything within it. It is not possible that Allah will say anything about His Creation except the absolute truth. Allah says: “Should He who created not know? And He is the knower of subtleties, the All-Aware.” [Sûrah  al-Mulk:14]

Just as we can be sure that what the Qur’an informs us about is undoubtedly true, we can be equally sure that what the Qur’ân legislates for us is undoubtedly just. Allah says: “The word of your Lord is fulfilled in truth and justice.” [Sûrah al-An`âm: 115]  This means that it is true in what it informs us of and just in what it legislates for us.

The blessing of the Qur’an
The Qur’ân is the criterion and the scale of reference for all disputes and disagreements in matters of  religion. We can appreciate the great blessing that Allah has given us in preserving the Qur’ân up to our time. It is the greatest of blessings bestowed upon the Muslims, and indeed upon all humanity.

We can show our thanks for this blessing by allowing the Qur’ân to govern our lives, our families, and our societies. The Qur’ân should be referred to in all of our affairs. If we fail to do so, we will be showing ingratitude for this greatest of blessings. The punishment for this ingratitude is a painful one indeed. It is that the Qur’ân will be taken away from us and not a trace of it will be left on Earth.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Islam will be obliterated just like a stain is washed out of a  garment. Fasting, prayer, the pilgrimage rites, and charity will be unknown. Allah’s Book will be lifted up on a night so that not even a verse of it will remain on Earth.” [Sunan Ibn Mâjah (4049)] 

The Qur’ân shall be removed from the hearts of men and from the pages on which it is written because it will cease to be acted upon and benefited from.

Out of respect for His words, Allah will lift it away from those who ignore it and deny it the recognition that it deserves.

Muslim Efforts in Interpreting the Qur’ân

The Qur’ân was revealed to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his Companions learned it from him. They, in turn, taught it to the Muslims who came after them. The Muslims showed the Qur’ân the utmost care and concern. This is no more evident than in the care that they showed in the interpretation of the Qur’ân.

The efforts  of the  Companions in interpreting  and explaining the  Qur’ân

The Companions were very concerned with the correct understanding of the Qur’ân. Some of them became well known for their knowledge in this area, having devoted their lives to this endeavor. The following Companions are the most notable among them:

`Abd Allah b.`Abbâs (radhiyallahu anhi). He was known as Hibr al-Ummah (Scribe of the Muslim Nation) and Tarjumân al-Qur’ân (Interpretor of the Qur’ân). He was the foremost of all the commentators of the Qur’ân. The Prophet (peace be upon him) had made the following supplication on his behalf: “O Allah, give him understanding of the religion and teach him the interpretation of the Qur’ân.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî  (143)]

Numerous statements regarding the commentary and interpretation of Qur’ânic verses have been related from him. He was one of the four people who had compiled the entire Qur’ân together during the Prophet’s lifetime and he was one of the most important reciters of the Qur’ân from among the Companions.

`Abd Allah b. Mas`ûd (radhiyallahu anhu). The Prophet (peace be upon him) had said: “Take the Qur’ân from four people: Ibn Mas`ûd, Mu`âdh bin Jabal, Ubayy bin Ka`b, and Sâlim the ward of Abû Hudhayfah.” [Sahîh Muslim (2464)]

`Abd Allah bin Mas`ûd (radhiyallahu anhu) said: “I  swear by Allah; indeed I have taken from the lips of Allah’s Messenger over seventy chapters of the Qur’ân. And by Allah, the  Companions know that I am among the most knowledgeable among them concerning Allah’s book, though I am not the best of them.”

The person who related this statement of Ibn Mas`ûd (radhiyallahu anhu) follows it with the following comment: “I sat in study circles and listened to what the people were saying and never heard anyone respond by saying anything to the contrary.”

`Abd Allah b. Mas`ûd (radhiyallahu anhu) also said, “I swear by Allah besides whom there is no other God; no verse of Allah’s Book has been revealed except that I know the circumstances in which it was revealed. If I had known anyone else more knowledgeable about Allah’s Book than me who could be reached by camel, I would have mounted a camel and gone to him.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (5002)]

Other Companions who made significant contributions to Qur’ânic commentary were`Alî bin Abi’ Talib, Ubayy bin Ka`b, and `Abd  Allah bin `Umar (radhiyallahu anhuma).

In his Muwatta’, Mâlik narrates that Ibn `Umar devoted eight years to the study of Sûrah al-Baqarah, the first and longest chapter of the Qur’ân. [Al-Muwatta’ (477)]. When he completed it, he offered a camel in sacrifice to Allah as a token of gratitude.

He had studied both the words and the meanings of Sûrah al-Baqarah, committing its understanding to memory along with its recitation. It takes an average student today a few weeks to a month to commit Sûrah al-Baqarah to memory, whereas Ibn `Umar, the eminent Companion, took eight years to do so, because he committed to his knowledge along with the words of the Qur’ân the meaning and proper understanding of the text.

The efforts of the Successors in interpreting and explaining the  Qur’ân

The Successors, those who learned from the Companions, acquired from them the knowledge of Qur’ânic commentary. Among their number were some of the greatest scholars in the field, like Mujâhid bin Jâbir al-Makkî, about whom Sufayan al-Thawrî said: “If you get the commentary of the Qur’ân from Mujâhid, it will be enough for you.” [Refer to Tafsîr Ibn Kathîr (1/6)]

There is nothing at all surprising about this, since Mujâhid (rahimahullah) was a student of none other than Ibn `Abbâs. He said: “I read the Qur’ân to Ibn `Abbâs three times from beginning to end, stopping upon each verse.” [Tabaqât Ibn Sa`d (2/395)]

Among the many other Successors who were known for the commentary of the Qur’ân were Qatadah, `Ikrimah, al-Suddî (rahimahumullah).

The written compilation of the commentary of the Qur’ân

Thereafter, eminent scholars committed the commentary of the Qur’ân to writing. Thousands of commentaries on the Qur’ân were written employing a variety of approaches. Specialists in the Arabic language wrote commentaries examining the language, grammar, and linguistic style of the Qur’ân. Scholars of Islamic Law wrote books focusing on the verses of the Qur’ân that deal with legal rulings and what they indicate and the differences of opinion among  jurists  regarding these indications. Scholars of hadîth wrote books wherein they collected together the various narrations that discuss the meanings of the verses of the Qur’ân. 

Specialists in every field lent their particular expertise to the body of literature known as Qur’ânic  commentary. There can be no doubt that these books vary widely in their quality and value. Indeed, some commentaries were written merely to advance the particular ideas of their authors with little regard for objectivity.

There have been scholars of Islamic Law who interpreted verses of the Qur’ân to support their own legal opinions as well  as their preferences among the legal verdicts of other jurists.

There have also been a number of scientifically minded people, especially in recent years, who have tried to make the Qur’ân indicate scientific ideas that it simply does not indicate. This is the case with Tantâwî’s commentary al-Jawâhir. This  book contains everything save  Qur’ânic commentary. It is more a  book of astronomy, physics, biology, and geology and contains virtually  nothing of Qur’ânic commentary.

This is a common tendency among advocates of an idea referred to as “the scientific miracle of the Qur’ân”. Some of the proponents of this idea have gone to extremes in distorting the interpretation of certain verses to indicate meanings that are simply not being indicated by those verses. They do so hoping to demonstrate that the Qur’ân anticipated certain modern scientific discoveries – and even some unproven hypotheses.

How the  Prophet (peace be upon him) Conveyed  the Qur’ân

These differences that exist in the interpretation of the Qur’ân make it necessary for a Muslim who sincerely wishes to know the true meaning of Allah’s Book to go back to the original source and unadulterated well-spring of this knowledge. This source is none other than the Prophet’s authentic Sunnah. This is the best source for the proper understanding of the Qur’ân, because the Prophet (peace be upon him) was the one commanded by Allah to communicate the Qur’ân to us.

Allah says the following in this regard:

“Your duty is but to convey the Message.” [Sûrah al-Shûrâ: 48]

“Do not move your tongue in haste with it. Indeed, it is upon Us to bring it together and recite it. So when We recite it, follow attentively its recitation. Then it is upon Us to expound it.” [Sûrah al-Qiyâmah:16-19]

“O Messenger! Convey what has been sent down to you from your Lord. If you do not do so, you will not have conveyed His Message.” [Sûrah al-Mâ’idah: 67]

Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) was commanded to convey the Message and to explain it. What exactly, we may ask, does this entail? It actually entails quite a number of things, which can be enumerated as follows:

1. Conveyance of the words of the Qur’ân

It was the duty of the Prophet (peace be upon him) to convey the words of the Qur’ân exactly as they were revealed to him without any alteration, addition, or omission.

Allah says: “Indeed, Allah conferred a great blessing upon the believers when He sent among them a Messenger from among themselves reciting unto them His signs, purifying them, and teaching them the Book and the Wisdom, while before that they had been in manifest error.” [Sûrah Al `Imrân: 164] 

The statement “reciting unto them His signs” refers to the actual words of the Qur’ân.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) showed the utmost care and concern for conveying the words of the Qur’ân. Ibn `Abbâs (radhiyallahu anhu), while explaining the meaning of the verses of Sûrah al-Qiyâmah quoted above, shows us just how concerned the Prophet (peace be upon him) was:

“Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) used to be seriously taxed when receiving revelation and he would follow along with it by moving his lips, so Allah revealed: ‘Do not move your tongue in haste with it. Indeed, it is upon Us to bring it together and recite  it.’ – meaning ‘We will bring it together in your heart and then you should recite it’ – ‘So when We recite it, follow attentively its recitation.’ – meaning:  ‘Listen and be silent, and then it will be upon Us that you will be able to recite it.’ 

Thereafter, Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) would listen when the angel Gabriel came to him. Then when Gabriel departed, he would recite it just as it was recited to him.”

This faithful communication of the words of the Qur’ân was part of what Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) was commanded by his Lord to convey to humanity. There is no doubt that he conveyed the words of the Qur’ân to us accurately and completely and that he did not conceal anything that was revealed to him.

If the Prophet (peace be upon him) were to have concealed any verse of the Qur’ân, it would have been: “And recall when you said to the one who had received Allah’s favor and your favor: Retain your wife (in marriage) and fear Allah.’ And you were hiding in your heart what Allah was about to make manifest. You were fearing the people, but it is more fitting that you should fear Allah.”
[Sûrah al-Ahzâb: 37]

This verse censures Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) in the sharpest manner. Nevertheless, Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) had to dutifully recited this verse to the people, both within prayer and outside of it.

He would also have had reason to conceal “He (the Prophet) frowned and turned away when the blind man approached him. And what could tell you but that perhaps he might become purified or that he might receive admonition and that the admonition might benefit him? As for the one who regards himself as self-sufficient, he is the one to whom you give your attention, though it is not upon you if he does not become purified. But as for him who came to you earnestly and with humility, of him you were unmindful.” [Sûrah `Abasa: 1-10]

Though these verses rebuke the Prophet (peace be upon him) in the harshest of terms, he recited them to the people just as they were revealed to him.

Allah chose Muhammad (peace be upon him) for His Message above all humanity, and Allah says:

“Allah best knows with whom to entrust His Message.” [Sûrah al-An`âm:124] 

He chose a man whom He knew would not conceal anything that was revealed to him, even those verses that scolded and censured him. Allah chose a man who would convey those verses just as faithfully as the verses that praised him.

He would recite to the people Allah’s praises for him, like “He is upon a most exalted standard of conduct.” [Sûrah al-Qalam: 4]  and “Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and those who are with him are severe upon the unbelievers and merciful among themselves. You see them bowing and in prostration seeking Allah’s favor and His pleasure.” [Sûrah al-Fath: 29] Yet with equal ease he would recite the verses that scolded him and censured him.

2. Conveyance of the meaning of  the Qur’ân

Though he took great care to convey the words of the Qur’ân faithfully, he did not suffice with that. He made equally certain to explain to the people the meaning of those words. In fact, the task of explaining the meaning of Allah’s book is cited in the Qur’ân itself as being part of the Prophet’s duty. This is why Allah says: “Then it is upon Us to expound it.” [Sûrah al-Qiyâmah: 19]  after saying “Do not move your tongue in haste with it. Indeed, it is upon Us to bring it together and recite it.” Allah is saying here that it is upon Him to explain to His Messenger (peace be upon him) the meaning of what He is revealing to him of the Qur’ân’s words.

After Allah says: “Indeed, Allah conferred a great blessing upon the believers when He sent among them a Messenger from among themselves reciting unto them His signs…” He immediately  follows it by saying “…purifying them…” [Sûrah Al `Imrân: 164]  This purification means that Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) developed the character of his Companions upon the teachings of the Qur’ân. The Qur’ân was transformed within their personalities from a mere written word into a practical and vital expression of life in the real world.

It has been said about the Companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) that each of them was like a Qur’ân walking on the Earth. This is not hard to accept, for when `Â’ishah (radhiyallahu anha), the Prophet’s wife, was asked to describe her husband’s character, she said  to her questioner: “Do you read the Qur’ân?” When her questioner responded in the affirmative, she said: “The character of the Prophet (peace be upon him) was the Qur’ân.” [Sahîh Muslim (746)]

When Allah speaks about the Prophet (peace be upon him) purifying those to whom he came, he is talking about how the Prophet (peace be upon him) taught them proper beliefs, lofty moral values, nobility of conduct, and what they needed to prepare them for the role of leading humanity which was required of them.

After saying all of this, Allah continues by saying: “…and teaching them the Book and the Wisdom”. This begs us to ask the question: What is the book being referred to and what is meant by “the Wisdom”?

The famous jurist, al-Shâfî`î (rahimahullah), provides the following answer to this question:

Allah says: “And recite what is rehearsed to you in your homes of Allah’s signs and of the Wisdom. Truly Allah is the Subtle, the All-Aware.” [Sûrah al-Ahzâb: 34]

Allah makes reference to His Book which is the Qur’ân. He also mentions the Wisdom, which, according to what I have heard from those whose knowledge of the Qur’ân I am pleased with, refers to the Sunnah of Allah’s Messenger.” [al-Risâlah, pp.77-78]

Therefore, we must consider closely Allah’s statement: “Indeed, Allah conferred a great blessing upon the believers when He sent among them a Messenger from among themselves reciting unto them His signs, purifying them, and teaching them the Book and the Wisdom, while before that they had been in manifest error.” [Sûrah Al `Imrân: 164]

When we do so, we can see that it starts off by stating how Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) conveyed to his Companions the words of the Qur’ân. Then, once they had committed these words to memory, he would take them to the next level by “teaching them the Book”, explaining to them the meaning of those words. He would go even further by “purifying them”, shaping their personalities and conduct in accordance with the Qur’ân’s teachings.

One of the students of the Companions spoke about how he learned from them, saying: “Those among the Companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) who taught us the Qur’ân told us that they used to learn ten verses at a time from Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him). They would not take from him another ten until after they learned the knowledge that those verses contained and how to put what they learned into practice.” [Musannaf  Ibn  Abî  Shaybah   (29929)]

The duty of the Prophet (peace be upon him) was to convey the text of the Qur’ân along with its meaning. Indeed, it was a duty that he carried out most admirably.

The Commentary of the Companions

The Prophet’s Companions were for the most part Arabs. They knew the Arabic language instinctively. By merely hearing Arabic speech, they knew exactly what the speaker intended. Likewise, the unbelievers of Makkah knew the Arabic language and knew in general terms what the Qur’ân was saying. 

Allah says: “Truly it is revelation from the Lord of All the Worlds, brought down by the Trustworthy Spirit (Gabriel) to your heart – so you could give admonition – in the clear Arabic tongue.” [Sûrah al-Shu`arâ’: 192-195]

Allah says: “And we never sent a Messenger with other than the language of his people.” [Sûrah  Ibrâhîm: 4]

The Arabs – even the unbelievers among them – understood in general what the Qur’ân was saying to them. This is why so many of them rejected it when it spoke contrary to their vain desires and vested interests.

They likewise understood the meaning of the Arabic declaration “Lâ ilâha illâ Allah” (There is no God but Allah). So when they heard the Prophet (peace be upon him) say “O people! Say that there is no god but Allah”, they fully appreciated that it meant there was to be no worship meted out to anyone besides Allah alone and that only Allah deserves to be worshipped. This is why they rejected it so decisively, saying: “Has he made the gods into one God? This is something strange indeed!” [Sûrah Sâd: 5]

The leaders of the polytheists like Abû Jahl and Abû Lahab knew the Arabic language and what it means. By contrast, many Muslims today – and indeed for many generations – declare “Lâ ilâha illâ Allah” without understanding its true meaning the way those pagans of old understood it. Many Muslims today assume that the statement “There is no god but Allah” simply means that there is no Creator and Provider apart from Allah. This is only part of its meaning. However, its true meaning – the one that the pagans of Makkah so violently rejected – is that Allah alone must receive our worship.

The Companions were Arabs of their day and understood the Arabic language. They understood most of what the Qur’ân was saying merely by having the Prophet (peace be upon him) recite it to them.  

Likewise, the Arabs of today understand a reasonable portion of the Qur’ân without having to refer back to books of commentary. When the Qur’ân discusses things like Paradise, Hell, the Messengers, and matters of inheritance, an Arab understands immediately what is being said. The Companions who lived at the time the Qur’ân was being revealed, likewise understood much more than that.

Reasons why the Companions differed in their understanding of the Qur’ân

The Companions understood the Qur’ân better than anyone else. In spite of this, they differed among themselves in their understanding of the Qur’ân for various reasons. This is why they would go to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and ask him about matters they needed to have clarified and He would explain these matters to them.

Among the reasons for their disagreements were the following:

1. Varying degrees of intellectual ability and insightfulness.
Allah bestows upon His servants varying degrees of reason and intelligence. Some people are blessed to be geniuses and others have lesser intellectual powers bestowed upon them.

All of the Companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) enjoyed a certain minimum degree of knowledge of the Qur’ân. However, beyond this common knowledge, many Companions had much more, and to varying degrees.

`Alî (radhiyallahu anhu) was once asked: “Do you know anything of the revelation besides what is in Allah’s Book?”

He replied: “I swear by Him who cleaves the seed open and creates life, I know nothing save an understanding of the Qur’ân that Allah bestows upon a man and what is written on that scroll.” He pointed to a scroll that he had hanging from his sword.

His questioner asked him what was written on the scroll. He replied: “Matters of blood money and of freeing a slave and the ruling that a Muslim should not be killed in retribution for the death of an unbeliever.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (3047)]

`Alî (radhiyallahu anhu) had said: “…an understanding of the Qur’ân that Allah bestows upon a man…”, indicating that some of the Companions were blessed with more of an understanding than others.

Ibn `Abbâs (radhiyallahu anhu) had once placed for the Prophet (peace be upon him) water for him to use for purification. The Prophet (peace be upon him) asked: “Who is it that placed this here?”

The people informed him that it was Ibn `Abbâs (radhiyallahu anhu) who had done so. At that time, Ibn`Abbâs (radhiyallahu anhu) was a pre-pubescent boy. The Prophet (peace be upon him) was impressed with the boy’s knowledge, intelligence, and good manners and made the following supplication to Allah on his behalf: “O Allah, give him understanding of the religion and teach him the interpretation of the Qur’ân.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (143)]

Ibn`Abbâs (radhiyallahu anhu) enjoyed an unsurpassable knowledge of the Qur’ân. Many stories and narrations have reached us about the excellence of his knowledge. Perhaps one of the most amazing of these is what took place between him and a Khârijite named Nâfi`bin al-Azraq al-Khârijî.

Nâfi`bin al-Azraq had asked Ibn `Abbâs (radhiyallahu anhu) a series of questions about the Qur’ân. Each time Ibn `Abbâs (radhiyallahu anhu) gave him an answer, Nâfi` would challenge him by saying: “Do the Arabs know this in their language?” Ibn`Abbâs (radhiyallahu anhu) would say “Yes, they do” then go on to prove it by citing from memory literary precedents from verses of Arabic poetry. This showed how extensive and remarkable his knowledge was.

The Companions had different degrees of knowledge and consequently disagreed in their understanding of the meanings of many verses. Sometimes a Companion would even misunderstand what a certain verse was speaking about, as we shall discuss shortly.

2. Differences in their understanding of the Arabic language.
Though they were Arabs, some of them had a more extensive vocabulary and a deeper knowledge of the subtleties of the Arabic language than others.

For instance,`Umar bin Al-Khattâb (radhiyallahu anhu) recited from the Qur’ân: “And we split open the Earth and produce therein corn and grapes and herbs and olives and dates and enclosed gardens with lofty trees and fruits and abb.” [Sûrah `Abasa: 26-31] Then he said, regarding the last verse:  “We know what fruits are but what is abb?” Then he thought to himself and said: “By Allah, this is indeed burdensome, O `Umar!” [Tafsîr  al-Tabarî (30/59-61). The word abb is an Arabic word referring to plants that are used as fodder for livestock].

Abû Bakr (radhiyallahu anhu) also asked about the same verse and lamented: “What land could shelter me and what sky could shade me if I were to dare say about Allah’s Book what I do not know?” [Musannaf Ibn Abî Shaybah (30103)]

This shows that the Companions differed in their knowledge of the Arabic language. They likewise disagreed in their understanding of the intended meaning of certain verses. For instance, when `Adî bin Hâtim heard the verse “…so eat and drink until the white thread becomes distinct to you from the black thread of dawn…” [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 187], he understood it to mean actual threads of cloth. So when he went to sleep that evening, he placed a black thread and a white thread beneath his pillow. When he woke up to take his morning meal before starting his fast, he placed those threads beside him and continued to look at them while he ate until the sky became bright enough for him to distinguish the black thread from the white thread.

Later on that day, he went to Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) and informed him of what he had done. The Prophet (peace be upon him) explained to him the meaning of the black thread and the white thread referred to in the verse, saying: “That only refers to the blackness of the night and the whiteness of the day. So if the light of dawn becomes visible to you, stop eating.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (1916)]

This shows how the Companions could differ in understanding the intended meaning of Allah’s words. In the Arabic language, it is possible to understand the black thread and the white thread to mean actual cotton threads. The language also allows for these phrases to indicate night and day. `Adî had understood the first meaning, so the Prophet (peace be upon him) explained to him that the second meaning was actually intended. There is no doubt that the other Companions did not understand the verse in the way that Adî had understood it, since they did not do what he had done.

3. Differences in their knowledge of historical events, happenings, and other types of knowledge that contribute to the understanding of the Qur’ân.
Al-Mughîrah bin Shu`bah (radhiyallahu anhu) relates that the Prophet (peace be upon him) had sent him to the Christians of Najrân to call them to Islam and to teach them. One of the things that al-Mughîrah (radhiyallahu anhu) informed them about was the verse of the Qur’ân describing what the people exclaimed when they saw Mary carrying a child: “O sister of Haroon, Your father was not a man of evil nor your mother an unchaste woman!” [Sûrah Maryam: 28]

When the Christians of Najrân heard this verse, they objected: “O Mughîrah, how can you call her ‘the sister of Aaron when many centuries had passed between her time and that of Aaron?”

Al-Mughîrah (radhiyallahu anhu) was confused and did not know what to say, so he returned to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and asked him about it. The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied: “They used to call each other by the names of their Prophets and the names of the pious people who came before them.”   

The Prophet (peace be upon him) solved the problem that al-Mughîrah (radhiyallahu anhu) had in understanding the Qur’ân. The Haroon (peace be upon him) being referred to was not the brother of Musa (peace be upon him) but another Haroon. This was something common, because the Jews used to give their children the names of the prophets and other pious people of aforetime, and Musa and Haroon were among those names.

Had al-Mughîrah (radhiyallahu anhu) known this fact, he would not have had to ask the Prophet (peace be upon him) about it. However, when the Christians brought the matter to his attention, he had no answer for them and he had to return to the Prophet (peace be upon him) for the answer.

How the  Sunnah Explains the  Qur’ân

Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) explained in his Sunnah everything of the Qur’ân that needed to be explained. The question is: Does this mean that he explained all of the Qur’ân or only part of it?

Scholars have differed on this matter. Some, like al-Suyûtî, have expressed the opinion that he had to explain very little of the Qur’ân. Their opinion is based on the hadîth where`Â’ishah (radhiyallahu anha) supposedly said: “The Prophet (peace be upon him) did not explain anything of the Qur’ân with his opinion save for a few verses.” [Majma`al-Zawa’id  (6/303)] 

However, this hadîth is unauthentic on account of its defective chain of transmission. One of its narrators is Ja`far al Zubayrî, a weak narrator whose hadîth cannot be relied upon.

Other scholars claim that Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) explained the Qur’ân in its entirety. They mean that he explained all of the Qur’ân that could possibly need explanation, since there are verses of the Qur’ân that require no explanation at all.

Ibn`Abbâs (radhiyallahu anhu) said: “The explanation of the Qur’ân has four aspects to  it. The first aspect comprises what is known by the Arabs by virtue of their language. When it is recited to the Arabs, they understand it. Then there are the explanations that no one is excused for not knowing. This includes the explanation of the verses related to Islamic legal injunctions and beliefs that people need to know. Then there are the explanations that are known only to scholars. These are subtle meanings that most people do not grasp. Then there are matters whose explanation is known only to Allah. These are the four aspects of the explanation of the Qur’ân.” [Tafsîr al-Tabarî]

In short, Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) explained in his Sunnah everything of the Qur’ân that needed explaining. The Sunnah is, in essence, the commentary of the Qur’ân, and it explains the Qur’ân in four ways:

1. Verbal (textual) explanation of the Qur’ân  

This is where the Prophet (peace be upon him) explains the Qur’ân by stating what it means. This is quite common in the Sunnah. Scholars have produced volumous works devoted to compiling these statements together, such as the commentaries of the Qur’ân compiled by `Abd bin Humayd, Ibn Mardawayh, Ibn Abî Hâtim, and al-Tabarî. The scholar al-Suyûtî compiled a great deal of these hadîth together in his work al-Durr al-Manthûr fî Tafsîr al-Ma’thûr.

Many compilations of the Sunnah contain chapters devoted to the explanation of the Qur’ân. For example, an entire volume of Ibn Athîr’s encyclopedic compilation of six major Sunnah books entitled Jâmi` al-`Usûl is devoted to statements related from the Prophet (peace be upon him) that explain the Qur’ân. The six Sunnah books that he brings together are Sahîh al-Bukhârî, Sahîh Muslim, Sunan Abî  Dâwûd,  Sunan al-Tirmidhî, Sunan al-Nasâ’î, and Muwatta’ Mâlik. In fact, the volume of his encyclopedia devoted to Qur’ânic commentary does not contain all the hadîth that explain verses of the Qur’ân. Some of those hadîth can be found under various other relevant categories and they amount to roughly another full volume of material.

The Prophet (peace be upon him), therefore, explained a great deal of the Qur’ân. The following examples are merely illustrative:

1. Allah says: “So whoever among you is sick or suffers from an ailment on his scalp must expiate by fasting, charity, or sacrifice.” [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 196] The phrase “fasting, charity, or sacrifice” requires further explanation. How much fasting or charity is needed and what kind of sacrifice is meant?

The Companion named Ka`b bin `Ajazah narrates the following:

I had an ailment on my scalp and I was brought to Allah’s Messenger with lice crawling on my face. He said: “I did not imagine that the effort expended by you would reach the level that I have seen. Can you find a sheep?”

I said to him: “No.”

Then the verse was revealed to “…expiate by fasting, charity, or sacrifice”.

He said: “Fast for three days or feed six poor people a half sâ`(A sâ` is a traditional measure of capacity roughly equivalent to the volume of four full double-handfuls of an average man when both of his hands are placed together to form a scoop. [al-Nawawî,  al-Majmû`]) of food each.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (1815)]

In this way the Prophet (peace be upon him) explained the verse.

2. Allah says “On a day that some of your Lord’s signs shall arrive, a soul shall not benefit from its faith had it not believed from afore or had earned some good from its faith.” [Sûrah al-An`âm: 158]

Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) explained that the time being referred to is when the Sun will rise from the West. He said: “The Hour will not arrive until the Sun rises from the west. And when it rises from the west, all of humanity will believe. So on that day  ‘…a soul shall not benefit from its faith had it not believed from  afore or had earned some  good from its faith’.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (4636)]

3.`Uqba bin `Âmir narrates the following:

I heard Allah’s Messenger while he was preaching behind the pulpit quote the verse: “And they prepared for them of what might you were capable of.” Then he said: “Indeed, might here means firepower. Indeed, might here means firepower. Indeed might here means firepower.” [Sahîh Muslim (1917)]

The Prophet (peace be upon him) explained that the “might” being referred to in the verse was the power of ranged weapons. In their day, this would mean arrows and spears. Today, it would apply to guns, missiles, and military aircraft.

4. The Prophet (peace be  upon  him) said: “No one will be put to the reckoning on the Day of Judgment save one who is doomed.”

To this `Â’ishah said: “O Messenger of Allah, didn’t Allah say: ‘And as for him who is given his book in his right hand, he will be given an easy reckoning.’?”

The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied: “This is but a presentation of deeds. No one who has his account discussed on the Day of Judgment will be spared from punishment.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî  (6537)]

In this way, the Prophet (peace be upon him) explained what the Qur’ân meant by an “easy reckoning” on the Day of Judgment. An easy reckoning was a mere enumeration of a person’s deeds and sins without those sins being discussed.

5. Allah says: “Allah makes firm those who believe with a firm statement in the life of this world and in the Hereafter.”

The Prophet (peace be upon him) explained this verse, saying: “When the believer is seated in his grave, he will be approached and he will testify that there is no god besides Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. This is the meaning of His saying ‘Allah makes firm those who believe with a firm statement in the life of this world and in the Hereafter’.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî  (1369)]

2. Prophetic statements derived from meanings found in the Qur’ân 

Sometimes the words of the Prophet (peace be upon him) come with details and elaborations upon meanings expressed in the Qur’ân. This is more subtle than what we have just finished discussing. Here we have to first look at a statement made by the Prophet (peace be upon him) and then find the verse of the Qur’ân to which it relates. Ibn Kathîr pays considerable attention to this approach in his commentary of the Qur’ân.

Some examples of this are as follows:

1. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “A worshipper is closest to his Lord when he is prostrating.” [Sahîh Muslim (482)]

In the Qur’ân, there is a verse that indicates this meaning. Allah says: “Nay, do not obey him. Rather prostrate and draw close (to Allah).” [Sûrah al-`Alaq: 19]

2. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “When a man enters his house and invokes Allah’s name upon entering and upon partaking of food, Satan says (to his own kind): ‘You have no lodging here tonight and no  dinner.’ When he enters his house without invoking Allah’s name upon entering, Satan says (to his own kind): ‘You have found lodgings for the night.’ When he fails to invoke Allah’s name upon partaking of his food, Satan says: ‘You have found lodgings for the night and your dinner.’” [Sahîh Muslim (2018)]

The verse of the Qur’ân that indicates this meaning is as follows: “Deter whomever you are able from among them with your words and descend upon them with your steeds and your foot soldiers and share in their wealth, their progeny, and their provision.” [Sûrah al-Isrâ’: 64] One way that Satan can share in our wealth is by eating, drinking, and lodging with us when we forget to invoke Allah’s name.

3. During the Battle of the Confederate Tribes, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “They kept us from the middle prayer – the `Asr prayer – so may Allah fill their homes and their graves with fire.”

It is as if this hadîth is a direct explanation of the verse: “Safeguard your prayers and (especially) the middle prayer.”  [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 238]

There is actually another verse of the Qur’ân that indicates that the middle prayer is the `Asr prayer. Allah says: “O you who believe! Let those whom your right hands possess and those who have yet to reach maturity seek your permission three times (before entering) at the time before the dawn prayer, when you take off your clothing in the afternoon, and after the night prayer.” [Sûrah al-Nûr: 58]

It could be that the Prophet (peace be upon him) understood from this verse of the Qur’ân that the `Asr prayer was the middle prayer, since this verse indicates that the times of prayer are reckoned to start at dawn and end at night, since Allah begins by mentioning the dawn prayer and ends by mentioning the night prayer. In this way the afternoon prayer – the `Asr prayer – becomes the middle prayer.

This verse is the reason why many scholars of Islamic Law and scholars of Hadîth start with the dawn prayer when they discuss the times of prayer in their writings.

4. The people of Banû Salamah were a group of the Ansâr who lived in a distant neighborhood of Madinah. When they wished to move their homes closer to the Prophet’s Mosque, Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said to them: “O Banû Salamah! Your homes record your traces.”   [Sahîh Muslim (665)]

He meant by this that they should remain in their neighborhood and not think of relocating. It seems that the Prophet (peace be upon him) disliked the idea of any area of Madinah becoming vacant. He wanted to have righteous people spread throughout the land and not have them all concentrated in the vicinity of the mosque.

It could be that the Prophet (peace be upon him) understood what he said to them from Allah’s words: “Indeed We shall restore life to the dead and We record what they send before them and the traces they leave behind.”   [Sûrah YâSîn: 12] These traces that they leave behind include their going to the mosque and their returning from it.

5. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “No one should touch the Qur’ân except in a state of purity.”

The Prophet (peace be upon him) may have derived this ruling from the following verses of the Qur’ân: “Indeed it is a noble Qur’ân, in a book well guarded which none shall touch save those who are purified; a revelation from the Lord of all the worlds.” [Sûrah al-Wâqi`ah: 77-80]

From these verses that describe the Qur’ân, scholars have derived the ruling that it is unlawful for a person to touch the Qur’ân except in a state of ritual purity.

3. Explanation of the context in which particular verses were revealed

A person who knows the context in which a particular verse of the Qur’ân was revealed is better equipped to understand what that verse means than someone who does not. We have many examples where the Sunnah provides us with this information:
1. We have the following account related by `Urwah bin Zubayr:

I asked `Â’ishah (radhiyallahu anha) the following question: “Have you considered where Allah says: ‘Verily Mount Safâ and Mount Marwah are among the rites of Allah. So for those who make the greater or lesser pilgrimage to the House, there is no sin upon him to compass round them.’ [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 158] For by Allah! There is no sin upon anyone for not compassing round Safâ and Marwah.”

`Â’ishah replied: “How wrong is what you have said, my nephew. If it were how you have interpreted it, then it would have read: ‘there is no sin upon him to not compass round them.’

Nevertheless, it was revealed for the inhabitants of Madinah. Before they had accepted Islam, they used to dedicate their pilgrimage to the false god Manât whom they used to worship at al-Mushallal. Those who did so considered it objectionable to then compass round al-Safâ and Marwah. So when they accepted Islam, they asked Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) about it, saying: ‘O Messenger of Allah! We used to find it objectionable to compass round the area between al-Safâ and Marwah.’ So Allah revealed the verse: ‘Verily Mount Safâ and Mount Marwah are among the rites of Allah…’”

Then `Â’ishah (radhiyallahu anha) said: “The Prophet (peace be upon him) established the practice of traversing the ground between the two mountains, so no one is allowed to discard the practice of traversing between them.”

I then informed Abû  Bakr bin `Abd  al-Rahmân of this and he said to me: “There is something else that I have heard as well. For indeed I have from those possessing knowledge say that all the people – besides those mentioned by Â’ishah (radhiyallahu anha) who used to dedicate their pilgrimage to Manât – used to compass the ground between al-Safâ and Marwah. So when Allah mentioned compassing round the House without making mention of al-Safâ and Marwah in the Qur’ân, they said: ‘O Messenger of Allah! We used to compass the ground between al-Safâ and Marwah, but Allah has revealed compassing round the House without mentioning al-Safâ. So is there something wrong if we compass round them?’ So Allah revealed the verse: ‘Verily Mount Safâ and Mount Marwah are among the  rites of  Allah…’”

Then Abû Bakr bin `Abd al-Rahmân said: “I hear that this verse was revealed to both these groups of people; to those who objected to compassing between al-Safâ and Marwah in the days of ignorance as well as to those who used to do so and then thought it objectionable after accepting Islam because Allah mentioned compassing round the House without mentioning al-Safâ.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî  (1643)]

From this account, we know that the verse was revealed in two different contexts. The first was to tell the inhabitants of Madinah to compass the ground between Mount al-Safâ and Mount Marwah in contrast to what they used to do before Islam when they dedicated their pilgrimage to  Manât.

The second context was to tell the rest of the Muslims that they should continue to perform the circuits between al-Safâ and Marwah, even though they used to do so in the days of ignorance before Islam, since doing so is in fact one of the rites prescribed by Allah and not a custom from paganism.

By knowing the context in which this verse was revealed, we get a complete understanding of what the verse means.

2. Allah says: “It is no sin on you if you seek the bounty of your Lord. Then when you pour down from Mount `Arafât, celebrate the praises of your Lord at the sacred monument.” [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 198]

What does it mean in this verse to “seek the bounty of your Lord”? It could mean to pray to Allah, or to glorify him, or to seek His blessings. Indeed, the verse embraces these meanings.  However, the phrase “to seek the bounty of your Lord” is also used to mean commerce and the pursuit of business.

Ibn `Abbâs (radhiyallahu anhu) relates to us the context in which this verse was revealed:

`Ukâz, Mujannah, and Dhû al-Majâz were markets that were held in the times of ignorance. For this reason, people feared that it might be sinful to engage in trade during the season of pilgrimage. So Allah revealed the verse: “It is no sin on you if you seek the bounty of your Lord” about the pilgrimage season. [Sahîh al-Bukhârî  (4519)]

From this account, we know that the verse is telling us that it is not a sin to engage in commerce during the pilgrimage.

3. Allah says: “There is a mosque whose foundation was laid from the first day on piety. It is more worthy of your observing prayer therein. In it are men who love to be purified and Allah loves those who make themselves pure.”  [Sûrah al-Tawbah: 108]

What does this verse mean by “men who love to be purified?” Abû Hurayrah (radhiyallahu anhu) discusses the context of this verse, informing us that it was revealed about the people of Qubâ’. He says: “They used to clean their private parts with water after going to relieve themselves.” [Sunan Abî Dâwûd  (45)]

4. Allah says: “On the day that they will be dragged into the Fire on their faces (hearing): ‘Taste ye the touch of Hell.’ Indeed We have created all things in decreed measure.” [Sûrah al-Qamar: 48-49]

Muslims of Ahl al-Sunnah wa al Jamâ`ah use these verses as proof of Allah’s divine decree and that everything that happens is by Allah’ decree. However, there are those who dispute this interpretation, saying that the verse means that Allah created everything in due proportion and suitable for its place and time.

Now, there is nothing preventing this from being one aspect of the verse’s meaning. At the same time, the verse conveys the meaning that everything occurs by Allah’s decree.

This is clear from the context in which the verse was revealed. Abû Hurayrah (radhiyallahu anhu) relates:

That the pagan tribesmen of Quraysh came to Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) and started to dispute with him about divine decree, so the verse was revealed: “On the day that they will be dragged into the Fire on their faces (hearing): ‘Taste ye the touch of Hell.’ Indeed We have created all things in decreed measure.” [Sûrah al-Qamar: 48-49] [Sahîh Muslim (2656)]

4. Explanation of the Qur’ân by way of practical example

A contemporary Muslim scholar, when asked about the commentary of the Qur’ân, made the astute observation that “the best commentary that exists on the Qur’ân is the biography of the Prophet (peace be upon him), because the Prophet’s life – through his sayings, actions, and tacit approvals – was a practical expression of the Qur’ân.”

This is why `Â’ishah (radhiyallahu anha), when asked to describe her husband’s character, said: “The character of the Prophet (peace be upon him) was the Qur’ân.” [Sahîh Muslim  (746)]

Likewise, Jâbir (radhiyallahu anhu) said, while describing how the Prophet (peace be upon him) performed pilgrimage, said: “Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) was with us and the Qur’ân was being revealed to him. He knew its meaning, and whatever he did, we followed him in doing it.” [Sahîh al-Bukharî  (1651)]

Jâbir (radhiyallahu anhu) was here speaking generally about the pilgrimage and all other matters.

The following are a few examples of how the Prophet’s practice explains the Qur’ân:

1.  The prayer of the Prophet (peace be upon him) is an excellent example. He commanded his followers: “Pray as you’ve seen me praying.” [Sahîh al-Bukharî  (631)]

In this way, all of the Prophet’s prayers are an explanation for Allah’s words in the Qur’ân: “Establish prayer.”  

2. His pilgrimage is another good example. The Prophet (peace be upon him) performed the pilgrimage and carried out all of its rites. He commanded his followers, saying: “Take from me your pilgrimage rites.” [Sahîh Muslim (1777)]

Everything that the Prophet (peace be upon him) did on his pilgrimage came as an explanation of Allah’s words: “Pilgrimage to the House is a duty that people owe to Allah.”  [Sûrah Al `Imrân: 97] 

3. In the same way, the Prophet (peace be upon him) taught the people how to fast by his own practical example. His actions explained to them how to understand the verse: “Fasting has been prescribed for you…” [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 183]

4, The Prophet (peace be  upon him) showed us the various rates that must be paid for Zakâh, and in doing so provided us a practical  explanation of the verse: “And pay the Zakâh.”   [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 43]

5. A more specific example is the explanation of the verse: “Establish prayer at the Sun’s decline until the darkness of the night, and the morning recitation, for the morning recitation is witnessed.” [Sûrah al-Isrâ’: 78]

This verse gives the time-frame for the five daily prayers.

A person has asked the Prophet (peace be upon him) about the times of prayer and the Prophet (peace be upon him) did not tell him anything. Then he performed the dawn prayer with the people at the crack of dawn when it was still so dark that people could hardly make out one another’s features. He prayed the noon prayer with them just as the Sun began to decline from its zenith so that someone commented: “It is still high noon.” He led the afternoon prayer while the Sun was still quite high in the sky. He prayed the sunset prayer as soon as the Sun had dipped below the horizon. He performed the night prayer as soon as the red glow of dusk faded from the sky.

On the next day, the Prophet (peace be upon him) delayed the morning prayer so long that someone commented after the prayer was finished that the Sun  was practically rising. Then he delayed the noon prayer until it was almost the time he had performed the afternoon prayer on the previous day. He prayed the afternoon prayer so late that after the prayer was finished, someone commented that the Sun’s color had turned red. Then he delayed the sunset prayer until the ruddy glow of sunset had almost faded from the sky. Then he delayed the night prayer until a third of the night had passed.

On the following day, he summoned the questioner and said: “The times for the prayers are between the times that I prayed them.” [Sahîh Muslim  (614)]

6. In the Qur’ân, Allah describes the circuits that the pilgrims perform between Safâ’ and Marwah by saying: “Verily Mount Safâ and Mount Marwah are among the rites of Allah. So for those who make the greater or lesser pilgrimage to the House, there is no sin upon him to compass round them.” [Sûrah  al-Baqarah: 158] 

This verse shows us that performing this act is not prohibited. It also gives an indication that it is not obligatory to do so. However, when the Prophet (peace be upon him) performed this rite during his pilgrimage, he demonstrated its obligatory nature. This is why  `Â’ishah (radhiyallahu anha) said: “Allah will never accept as complete a greater or lesser pilgrimage from a person who does not walk the circuits between Safâ’ and Marwah.” [Sahîh al-Bukharî  (1790)]

From these examples, we can see that all of the Prophet’s words and deeds were an explanation of the Qur’ân. The great jurist al-Shâfi`î (rahimahullah) observed: “Every ruling that Allah’s Messenger gave came from his understanding of the Qur’ân.” [Refer to al-Itqân (2/467)]

We need to know that the Qur’ân and Sunnah are inseparable and that it is impossible for us to understand the Qur’ân except in light of the Sunnah.

May Allah grant us understanding of His Book and bless us to act according to it. And may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon our prophet Muhammad  and upon the Prophet’s family and Companions.